Yesterday, after work, I stopped at a gas station near my house (I just barely made it home). As I was filling that greedy tank, a tiny, old Filipino man with a cane came up to me and asked for a dollar "for the bus". I looked at him and saw that he was very neatly, cleanly and carefully, but shabbily, dressed. One sock was not completely pulled over the heel of his foot; perhaps a bad back or hip prevents him from pulling his sock up to the height of the other. I asked him if he could wait a moment; he did. I gave him $5. I wished I could have given him more: perhaps paid for a home and food and new clothes--made him safe.
But $5 was the best that I could do and he was thankful and I felt blessed to be connected.
As I buckled my seat belt, he came back with an orange in his hand to give me. I could see that he had freshly picked the orange from a tree (the blessings of Southern California's overhanging fruit). I accepted his orange and his humanity gratefully.
He wanted to give me his second orange, but I explained that one was plenty for me.
He went on his way and I went on mine--immensely richer--knowing that I had connected to so much more.
The old Mary would have thought that my gift-giver needed the orange more than I did--and would have rejected the gift. My newer eyes could see that my openness to receive confirmed his dignity (and mine) and our self-respect.
I am grateful for my newer, more open, connected heart.
Mary & Jones & Cole