But once in a while, I see something in the eyes of one of them, noting hands calloused by years of hard work, and realize that whether they are truly homeless or not, they are needing something more than cash, an uplifting of the spirit. So on those occasions I will roll down the window and put out a couple of bucks, but most importantly, I will look them in the eye and treat them with the respect of a kind word as I let them know I care and God loves them. I've seen one of them with tears in their eyes, an older black man with a straight back and hands curled by arthritis, simply because I give him a fairly large and crisp bill, called him Sir and wished him God's blessings for a comfortable night of rest.
It is then you realize how very precious the smallest of things are, how the most ordinary of things, the simplest of possessions can contain the deep, profound integrity of a work of art. You also realize that you can't hold onto something so hard, so afraid of losing it, that your efforts only fracture what once was whole. I look at some butterflies from Africa under glass, the one thing I wanted from my Aunt's house when she died and her things were divided up among all the family. Such frail and beautiful wings that almost look like they would flutter with life if I were to softly blow my breath on them. Yet it would only take one accidental drop off the table, to destroy them forever, wings tearing from glass that cuts as cleanly as tears.
As I drove into the city for work Friday, I see a woman on a corner in designer business clothing, everything about her bright and shining but for her eyes. On another is someone in the faded clothes of a working man, which have seen better days, holding a cardboard sign that says. Need help. God bles you. She does everything she can to avoid looking at him, as I hand $5 out the window and receive and honest and grateful thank you. I think of what I saw in their eyes - in hers, fear, in his, truth.
Truth, however painful, like beauty, floats hovers around us, obscured in the silent still waters of a day, waiting for us to stretch out a hand and grab on to it. As I accelerate away, I see their forms on the sidewalk, joined by others on their way to work, or simply finding their way, looking in the gleaming lights like the slates of a fence, some straight, some bent and damaged, all simply trying to hold something together.
The next time I go out for my walk, I'll take some homemade cookies and share with the old man that walks his dog, I will learn his name and I will remember it. For he understands too, what many of us know, that no matter how much or how little we have, we all want that same thing - to have a place where we are accepted and loved, a place that even the most humble of us deserve to know.