As I was pulling out of Starbucks today, a homeless guy was standing at the corner. I reached for one of the plastic bags that I keep in the car. Some folks call them Blessing Bags. Ours always have socks in them, and then some combination of peanuts, granola bars, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, beef jerky, band-aids, and tissues. We always put in a note. My granddaughter Z and her friend helped put the bags together recently, and the girls wrote the notes themselves. They puzzled over what to write. What do you say to homeless people?
When I gave the fellow outside of Starbucks the bag, I made sure I made eye contact, and I don’t find that easy with homeless people on street corners. I’d like to think they don’t exist, or that they haven’t had hard, sad lives. So that’s why I need to acknowledge that they do exist, that they’ve had hard lives, and that I can do something. A small something.
Most of the time the homeless people pull the socks out right away and put them on. Most always say “thank you” clearly. I only see them for a few seconds before I drive off.
Today, the man at Starbucks, wearing gardening gloves (I know because I have a pair just like them), said thank you in a near-reverential way. And then said “Thank you!” in a way that reminded me of how my sons would say it when they were little boys and got a special, unexpected treat. I said “You’re welcome! Take care!” and drove off.
Since it’s Mother’s Day, I though of this homeless man’s mom. Was she was a good mother, a mean mother, a mother who had died or disappeared when he was young, or a mother who worried terribly about him into his adulthood? I though of my own beloved sons, now adults. Once your kids are grown, you have to hope you’ve done a good job raising them, and that the world will treat them well. You hope they will make good decisions, aware of consequences, and will take good care of themselves. It’s twists of fate sometimes that bring mothering, mental health, mental illness, addictions, talents, tragedies, and opportunities into our lives. “Keep your hope.” Sometimes that’s the best we can do, though I am glad to give out these little bags as well. Blessings come in so many forms.