Sunday, July 5, 2009
"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."
Last night, as we sat down to a 4th of July dinner with some friends -we heard a voice coming from our lower deck... it was the childhood friend of one of our best friends. A man who was raised only blocks from our home by a very well educated and wealthy family-- but who early on became involved with drugs.
He is a very nice guy, very intelligent, yet a homeless alcoholic.
In the past, we have paid him petty cash to help around the yard.
Last night, he showed up here perhaps because of nostalgia: afterall, we live very close to his childhood home.
We fed him, and he shared with us some sparklers he had brought along.
The next day, we awoke to find he had slept on our deck.
I gave him coffee and brunch. He refused the meal, but took the coffee: black, with honey.
He hung around for a number of hours while we worked in the yard.. he chatted about about botany, plumbing (or lack there of) in West Virginia, and tobacco. He had brown, dried tobacco leaves with him which he was rolling around a pepper, and smoking.
We welcomed the opportunity to 'give to this person'- not ever in the hopes that we get anything "back" in the form of Karma, or brownie points for Heaven... but simply because he has a soul. He is like us. Namaste.
Many great philosophers and spiritual teachers have had much to say about generosity-yet what always comes to mind when in a position of need (whether that means giving charity, or having patience with giving my time to someone, a whispered prayer...)- I think of Namaste. Each individual, whether young or old, sober, drunkard sinner-- saint-- I honor the spirit in them (Namaste)!
Who am I to judge? My heart is to give and hope it blesses the reciever.
A few hours after our homeless guest left, as I was cleaning up all he left behind, I found a mug of beer. It looked oddly muddy. It was then that Sergio told me that our guest had poured a beer in the coffee mug I had given him. We soon found out that Indeed, he had drank a case of beer this morning before 11 am.
Sergio and I gave without question.
To us, it the only important thing is that we give without judgement.
We did not give him alcohol-but just as when we give to a stranger on the street, we know it is a possibility the money may go to alcohol- we still give, because we feel it is not our place to judge.
It is most impotant to move in kindness, in love.
I know there are plenty of bad stories out there... I myself remember when I was a little girl in Chile and someone came to our gate asking for money... our maid gave him an apple, and he threw it back! The maid ran inside scared.
As a little girl, that was a frightful experience.... however, years later as a recently moved to the USA tween who loved opening the bag of donated clothes from the church... what a blessing: charity!
The important thing is that when you give: you give with your whole heart- it is truly the best excercise in unselfishness, when you give just because you are thinking of the person on the receiving end.
As a mom ...I can only equate it to: you give because you want the best for that person.
For the homeless person on the street, this may mean you give simply because you hope they go to bed with a full belly that evening.
Giving time to your spouse, friend, son, daughter, parent...is no less important. Time is the best gift for them (more on that, soon!)
If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.