Reaching Out, Even When It's Difficult

Last week, I had a very touching experience happen to me that I don't want to forget.  It was a Saturday morning and I was walking to my mom's house so we could attend a funeral together for a dear friend.

As I walked past "The Boilers" as used to be called and a place I spent many hours playing as a kid, I saw an old homeless man walking out of the woody terrain. This place is just near my home and I remember going through the long, dark tunnel to get to the boilers as a kid. It is now closed off to the public.

I wondered if the tunnel is where his shelter has been all along.  I see this poor man walking past my house to go to the woods practically everyday, and many people I know see him walking along telegraph.

He wears a long sleeve shirt and jeans and carries a backpack. He walks extremely slow and frail and each time I have seen him walk past my house in over 100 degree tempatures, I have felt this yearning to do something.

As I walked past him this particular day on my way to my mom's, I said a simple "hello" in which he responded back. I kept walking and so did he. I wondered what to do next. I knew I was going to be late for the funeral, but I just felt prompted to do something more.  I began to soften.  I saw him as the Savior did.  My heart began to burn in a way it hadn't in a long time.

I looked in my purse and offered him a granola bar I planned to eat later.  He took the granola and offered me gratitude and thanked me over and over and said I made his day.

I asked him if he knew our bishop and gave him a lot of information about him. He was interested and began to tell me a story.  It was then my mom drove down the street and I offered him 5.00. He said he would not take the money. I pleaded for him to take it, but he said he doesn't like to take people's money and only would take food or drink.

I have never had a homeless person reject money. I saw how humble this man really was.  He was dirty and needed a bath and new clothes. He looked so dehydrated and skinny.  Although I was dressed up for said funeral, I suddenly wanted to forget myself and offer him a hug for comfort.

As we drove away, my heart felt full but sad.  I have felt curious about his story for sometime and each day I wonder where he is or where I can find him in those woods.  I want to offer him a hot meal or some compassion.

I wondered if this man feels unloved on a daily basis.  I wondered if things I take for granted such as a granola bar, really mattered to him.  He taught me that I can do more. It is so easy to look at people at the superficial level and assume they are just fine, but how do we really know if they are fine until we dig a littler deeper past the surface.

I have learned that fear of rejection is just pride in ourselves. If we are constantly thinking our own feelings rather then someone else's, it can lead to us becoming self absorbed.  Thinking of others before ourselves is what Christ taught. How many times did he heal the sick but only get a small token of gratitude back from a small amount of people. This did not stop him, he continued to be humble.

In this fast paced society, it's easy to focus on our to do list, getting from point A to point B, and worrying about our own little bubble of comfort.  Taking time to slow down, analyze our surroundings and really seek out revelations and promptings is what matters. Not the wordly stuff, the Real stuff. The stuff that matters.

Wherever this man is tonight, I am thinking of him. I am loving him and I am willing to do more for him. I hope that we can all do that when we feel that prompting.  We don't need to necessarily offer money each time, but food or even a soft touch or time with someone, can make the world of difference to someone else, and may just make our own day a little brighter.


Mango Salsa (see January archive on right for recipe)