I saw a homeless man sitting on an off ramp on the way to work today. I had seen him the day before too. I pondered giving him some money, but while I try to decide if this is someone taking advantage of everyone or not, the light always changes and there is no time to stick my hand out the window. I don’t have much to give, so I try to be careful if I do give anything it would go to someone who is really down on their luck, or really needs it. But I suppose this isn’t for me to decide-so says God. Today, there was a police man behind me as the homeless man sat in front of a sign that read “no soliciting.” He sat there with headphones, his sign, and a bucket with a rock in it that he used as a drum. On the loud speaker, the police man told him to move on in not so many words. I saw the homeless man hang his head down, almost embarrassed and shake his head yes, as if he knew he was really not supposed to be there—according to law.
But was he supposed to be there according to universal law? Do we make these laws so we do not have to worry about the feelings I described above? So we do not have to make the choice for ourselves on whether or not we should lend a helping hand? Out of sight, out of mind? To save us from our guilt if we do not? I almost wanted to give him something even though just for the fact that he was being told to move on.
Sure, we can think–why doesn’t he just get a job, or there are avenues set up within the government to help feed him and perhaps even teach him the skills to get him on his feet to start a self sufficient life. But I think some are incapable. And as I thought this this morning, my mother’s words rang in my head. She says “Jesus said that the poor will always be with you.” And they will. They will always be among us, and we will always be forced to make a decision about what we would like to do about that personally. Sometimes within the time it takes for a light to change from red to green.
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