“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy
I was in New Orleans for the U2 concert with Carmen over the last few days. Home now, and need to do homework, but first this post.
We spent Friday exploring Cafe’ Du Monde, and Jackson Square. We had the famous beignets (and water not coffee), and wandered around looking for a cheap protein for me to eat. We found a cafe (that also had beignets), and ordered ham and cheese croissant, and a turkey and cheese on French bread. Carmen and I only ended up eating half of each sandwich (I only had the meat and cheese off of a half). It was a ton of food.
As we were sitting and waiting on the food to be delivered, we talked about the homeless and despair in the city. I had taken pictures of the inside of the cafe (ceiling tiles) and outside – just in general pictures.I had noticed a guy sitting on the corner with a handwritten sign. What did it say? I don’t know. But the discussion of what was on it was typical. Don’t give him food, he will just throw it away. They only want drug money. Or they only want money for booze. I kept trying to read his sign.
My heart was heavy. I had eaten half of this sandwich, and was unable to finish it. Carmen was unable to finish her other half as well. We were just going to throw it away. We didn’t want to carry the leftovers around with us. I got a to-go box, and placed both of our uneaten halves of food in the box. Well, I said, if he throws it away, I tried. I at least would give him the opportunity to eat. Something kept telling me to do this. No one else was noticing him. He was just sitting there. People kept walking by—avoiding eye contact. Most of the time with his head in his hands. Tired. Dirty. Hungry. I heard “you don’t know his story. it isn’t for you to judge. just love.”
As I walked up to him, I was bothered. I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to look at him. It was leftovers. I had touched it. …wasn’t my choice… all I could read of his handmade sign said… anything will help. Looking straight at him, green eyes. I asked if he would mind that it was my leftovers. “No, ma’am. I haven’t eaten in 3 days.” It’s not much, but I am happy to help. “God bless you.” I walked away sadder than I did going over with the food. I didn’t look back at first. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to know what he was doing with the food. I didn’t want to be proven correct.
By the time I got back to my chair in the cafe, he had already eaten one of the sandwiches per Carmen. He was very hungry. Eating everything in front of him. My heart was sad, but felt good about not just throwing away our food. Carmen and I needed more water, so we bought an extra. As we were leaving the cafe’, I noticed he was still there finishing off one of the sandwiches. I took over my bottle of water, and as I was walking towards him, his head was shaken “no.” “you have done enough” – I said not near enough, and I had given you bread, but nothing to drink. “someone kicked my cup and broke it.” I am not sure that I heard him correctly, but again, not for me to even think about what was being said —just gave him a small bottle of water.
Drugs. Alcohol. Dirty. Poor. I prayed for him then. I prayed for him on Saturday, and again this morning. I can’t seem to get him out of my head. My heart was heavy sitting there with a plate of food that I couldn’t finish. How many others did the same thing and ignore that man sitting there hungry? Something so simple. Not for me to judge, just love.
I had a great time with seeing a band that I love their music. But now, and for as long as I can remember, has a mission of helping others. Many may not agree with what they do, or how they go about helping, but they give. My heart always wants to help, but I have gotten burned but people that have abused that gift. This weekend, that man, helped my heart give willingly again even if it was only a leftover sandwich.
“That one day is today.” – Thega-Alem Berhe
God has a way…always. Sometimes we listen.