Where I work, there’s a whole lot of homeless people milling around.
I recall many years ago how much the homeless scared me. I remember feeling disgust, even, when I saw beggars who seemed drunk or high. I wondered if handing them money would just encourage them to stay that way. I would experience an uncomfortable mix of pity, self-righteousness and guilt, deciding in the end to just ignore the feelings, thoughts, and the people who brought them out in me.
I don’t recall when I started looking at their faces, but it seems that really looking at them, and seeing them, caused some kind of internal shift. Instead of seeing just homeless people, I started seeing kind faces, sad faces, happy faces, tired faces, angry faces.
They’re the same kinds of expressions I or any of my friends would have. And that made me see them as my friends, too. Starting with that thought, it didn’t take much to begin giving them a smile, a greeting, a dollar when I have it, a joke or two, maybe a sandwich, or even just a silent wish or prayer for their well-being. The impulse just springs up, realizing we’re all passengers in this same boat called life.
What thoughts cross your mind when you see someone who’s obviously down and out? Leave a comment.