Isn’t it strange how sometimes intense happiness can come out of sad situations?
Well that happened to my wife the other day.
You see… Christine went shopping at a nearby town in the Northwest of England.
She’d been in a few shops, had done a little window browsing…
…and was heading towards another store when she noticed this chap.
He was sat on the pavement, rather shabbily dressed, trying to keep warm in the shelter of a doorway, and with a small cup of loose change in front of him.
Now I guess we’ve all seen a few people in this situation.
And probably the most common approaches are either to walk past, or maybe throw a few coins into the homeless person’s bowl to appease the conscience.
To my shame, that’s my normal approach.
My mind goes back many years, to when I was a teenager and a bit green around the ears, so to speak….
One evening a homeless chap asked me for some money to buy food… and I gave him some.
It was only later on, when I’d thought it through and had spoken with a few older people, that I realised the dreadful smell of alcohol on his breath meant the money wasn’t likely to be spent on food.
I learned a lot from that mistake.
So a number of years later, when another homeless man asked me for money I offered to share my lunch with him instead.
Boy, did we have a great conversation over lunch!
The chap left happy… and I felt on top of the world, having “done my bit for society”.
In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a great deal. But it had made a difference to someone’s day.
Back to my wife.
She was walking past this homeless man, when, for some strange reason, she felt compelled to stop…
…and walk over to him.
Christine took a quick look at this strange figure.
His rotting teeth suggested he’d been in hard times for a while.
But she noticed that he was eating something.
So she asked if he would like a hot drink to go with it.
What happened next took Christine by surprise.
With wonderful eloquence in his voice, this chap thanked Christine for her kindness and graciously accepted her offer.
After a very brief conversation to find out what he’d like, Christine headed over to McDonalds to purchase a large cup of coffee – with 3 spoonfuls of sugar!
“See… I told you I’d be back” she announced on her return to where the man was slouched.
And as she handed over the cup of coffee, the grateful expression on his face was a priceless picture.
But then came the difficult bit…
Christine really wanted to have a chat with this well spoken gentleman, this enigma of a person.
After all… there had to be some story there.
Why was this eloquent chap begging on the street?
What was his background?
Did he have a family?
But… she found herself unable to speak.
At least, not without filling up…
And she certainly didn’t want to start crying in front of him.
She didn’t want him to feel embarrassed.
So when he gratefully accepted the warm drink, she simply smiled and left.
I don’t know whether that was the only drink that man had that day.
Or even whether he would remember the event the next day.
But at that moment it could have been the most important thing in his world.
And when Christine arrived home, you could tell what it had meant for her too.
Even now, it brings a tear to her eye every time she thinks about the gratitude on the man’s face, and the thought of what that simple inexpensive gift had meant to him.
The old proverb rings true…
He who refreshes others shall himself be refreshed.
…sometimes much more than words can say …and for a long, long time to come.
So the next time the opportunity presents itself, go on…
And see what happens to your day!