I was going to stop by at a new donut shop to pick up a few sweet treats for work. As you would have it, the GPS quickly sent me on a wild goose chase which shaved a costly five minutes off of my time. Right away I felt like I was going to be late for work and I was frantically trying to spot the place. I had not foreseen a problem in the quick side trip and therefore I didn’t schedule extra time to get this errand taken care of. As I dashed across the busy intersection, I caught a glimpse of a silhouette near the side of the road. Out of the corner of my eyes, I’m not sure what I saw, but there was definitely something or somebody for that matter. Without further thought and attention to it, after all I was already late, I had only one mission and that was to find this donut shop. Finally at the place, of course it is busy, setting me further back. I stand and wait in line as an eternity passes me by until I finally clench my box of donuts and chase back to the car so I can get to work on time. By the way getting to work on time is usually 25 minutes early by my standards. I don’t like to be late and it’s not uncommon that I’m the first to arrive for any gathering.
There it was again and this time I got a better look. It was a homeless man with his dog, sitting on the side of the road. His sign was off to the side and he was starring off into the distance, perhaps daydreaming of much better days, happy times that were long gone. Time stood still as I spotted him, all noise disappeared and I felt the draw of the universe urging me not to pass him by. I had to make it over there, back to the other side where he was sitting, despite the time, the heavy traffic, and that it might actually make me late for work. He watched me maneuvering around and I signaled him that I would loop back. It took some effort but I finally found myself stopped next to him. There was an element of surprise on his face and for a moment there might have even been a faint glimmer of hope in his weary eyes. His gaze was full of appreciation as I said hi to hand him some money. As if he couldn’t believe the trouble I had just gone through, he held my hand for an added second and nodded his head as if I had “paid it forward”, as if I had done a good deed and redeemed myself. And in his gaze I saw the words before his lips could even speak as he said “God bless you, thank you very much”.
I never knew what his sign said and I don’t know what his story is. Why he needs to sit on the side of the road asking people for help and what demons of his past were holding him hostage. But in that moment and perhaps even earlier as something had compelled me to notice him and to slow down, I felt his pain. Once again that sixth sense and my intuition had kicked in for unknown reasons to myself. I never learned anything more about the man, but perhaps he needed a little hope that would restore his faith in humanity, to give him the strength to endure another day of his life. And for a moment I hoped that in some way I was able to do that for him.
I drove away with tears in my eyes that this complete stranger and his unknown story had provoked. Wishing that he could find his way in life again and to see better days. I prayed to God for something, perhaps a lucky break, a little hope, anything he could hold on to to change his stars. For the next thirty minutes I drove in a daze until I arrived at work. I was barely noticing the hectic around me, my thoughts with the homeless man and my heart touched by a stranger and the blessing I had received.