Introduction to our Guest Blogger:
Today I would like to introduce you to a special guest blogger. I am delighted to say that Elaine McCarty is an extended family member of mine; our children are married to one another. Elaine recently posted the following story on her social media page, and I thought there would be something valuable in sharing it with all of you. Elaine’s true story inspired me and reminded me of something the Lord Jesus Christ said:
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25-37-40
I want to share a story today. It’s called Denver Man. I thought this would be an experience that was my personal little secret, but I have been feeling the need to put this story on paper for a few weeks now. The feeling was so strong today at the gym that I actually left so I could go write this down. Those of you who know me know that’s sayin’ something.
So here goes. A couple years ago, a few events occurred at the same time. I’ve since come to understand that there are no coincidences in this universe. First, my son moved to Denver. At the same time, I was a reading a book written by my now favorite author, Pam Grout. She suggested how rewarding and fun it can be to secretly leave money in public places for others to find (thank you, Pam!). Then, on one of my first visits to Denver, my son took me to the 16th Avenue Mall – where every other person was homeless and begging for a handout. I had nothing to give that day, but an idea began germinating in my mind.
Ready to Be Generous
On my next visit to Denver, it was a beautiful, sunny day and I had the afternoon to myself. I brought along a pocket full of $5 bills and headed to the 16th Avenue Mall. I was going to be the generous lady walking down the street handing out money (wow, what an ego trip I was on!). Needless to say, I arrive at the mall and there is not a homeless person in sight. Not a single person begging for money. What was going on here? Where were the beggars? How can I be the generous lady with no takers?
I stopped at my favorite ice cream shop for my salted caramel cone – and had a shift in thinking. A small, but important shift. It suddenly occurred to me that I really wanted to help someone. Forget my pocketful of fives, if I could just help one person today, I’d be happy.
I walked out of the ice cream shop and, you guessed it, there he was. Denver Man. He was a young man, in his late 20s, I guess. He was wearing a green army jacket and the dirtiest pair of jeans I’ve ever seen. His dreadlocks were truly dreadful. And he was dirty. And smelly. He had been leaning against a wall and actually had to step out a ways to get into my path. He said, “ma’am do you have some spare change today?” I said something inane like “It just so happens I do”.
I handed him a $5 bill. He stared at it. And he started to cry…
He tried to stammer his thank you, but couldn’t find his words. He then tried to give me a giant hug. That kinda freaked me out a bit and I was reluctant to hug back. My measly little $5 bill meant that much to him? By then he found his words and told me I made his day and I said I was happy I could help. We went our separate ways.
The entire encounter took less than 60 seconds, but someone’s life had been changed forever – and it was mine. As I was walking back to my son’s apartment, it began to sink in just how important small acts of kindness can be. That feeling gets stronger and deeper every day since. He reminds me of the Mother Teresa quote “Each day I see Jesus in all his distressing disguises.”
There are no words to express the gift Denver Man gave to me that day, far greater than any $5 bill. He opened my heart and soul and I would like him to know that he made me a better person (I hope). As silly as it sounds, I still walk down the 16th Avenue Mall hoping I’ll run into him someday so I can thank him.
Instead, every night as I fall asleep, I give him that hug and I pray that God keeps him happy and safe.
And that’s it. Denver Man. I hope you enjoyed my tale. There is nothing you need to do – no comments, no likes are necessary. Just be happy. And try to spread that happiness, maybe hug someone =)
Perhaps another time I’ll share the story of the Pickle Lady….