Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

A Christmas story that is good all year round!

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2015 at 2:12 am

Recently my wife and I ventured out in the December cold to downtown Chicago so that we could look at the Christmas lights and browse the Christkindle German Market. The night was cold and a damp wind was blowing off the lake but the streets were decorated in their holiday finest and the feeling of Christmas was in the air. We browsed the market and munched on potato pancakes while looking at handmade ornaments and other German Christmas decorations. The market was packed and not easy to navigate as thousands of others obviously came up with the idea of visiting the market, just as we had. After a while, Sharon and I had decided to leave as we had grown cold and the hot chocolate we were drinking no longer held any warming potential. We made our way to the back side of the market as this exit was less crowded and made our way to the main street where we could get to our car and get warm. I had lost track of Sharon and back tracked looking for her as I knew she had no idea how to get around the bustling city. It took just a few steps and I instantly saw her. I stood back so that she would not see me and watched in amazement as she did something I never expected. Sharon was standing next to a bus stop, talking to a homeless man who was sitting Indian style on the street, his head down and a sign asking for money in his hand. Sharon was not only giving this man money but she was actually talking to him. For someone who is was very timid when we first met, I was totally shocked by her actions.

As others passed by and saw right passed this man, he slowly lifted his tired head and looked in amazement as my bride started to talk to him. Sure, people would drop coins in his cup out of a sense of duty or guilt, but surely nobody stopped to take the time to talk to the man as a person. Nobody seemed to care about this homeless man but as I walked up I heard my wife asking this seemingly insignificant man about his age. I gasped as I realized that she was carrying on a conversation with a person that I had previously walked by and paid no attention to. I was just as guilty as my fellow shoppers in the market of ignoring the homeless as I shopped for treasures for those who probably would not appreciate them anyway and honestly did not need them either.

We found this man to be engaging and thankful for some human conversation. We found him to be 50 years old but looked much older. I guess that is what life on the streets will do to you. We talked of insignificant issues and spent a few minutes just treating him as a human. Of course, we dropped some bills in his cup and hoped that he could use the money to buy himself something to eat and not something to ease his pain on this cold December night. We shook hands and we walked away, exchanging God’s blessings and hopes for a Merry Christmas. I walked away with the image of this man burned into my mind.

As the Christmas season progressed I have thought of this man many times. The image of his face with a tired, sad look has haunted me since that night a few weeks ago. The only thing that has caused me to smile is when I look back on this encounter, I see my wife showing incredible compassion towards someone who others saw as a roadblock. She put her fear aside and found a man who needed to know someone cared about him. She found someone who needed a hug along with a few dollars and gave this homeless man one before she left. She helped to wake me up to the reality of life and the need to help those who are less fortunate, even if those who are in need are out of my comfort zone. The woman who I never thought would reach out to a homeless man beyond dropping a few coins in a cup really showed me something that cold December night. She showed me the meaning of compassion in action and how a simple, kind gesture has the potential to make someone’s day. I knew this to be true because as we left, that man who had a sad, tired look on his face now wore a bight smile as we shared a few laughs together. Although he remained homeless, Sharon was able to brighten his day, if only for a few moments and let him know some people really do care.