In a sense, when we give away a homeless care kit to someone in need, I almost see it as an experience too sacred to share in that they are in the pit of the deepest need. Their needs are on display for anyone who will stop and look. All are hungry, many are sad, some are struggling with mental illness. That raw need touches you and shapes you.
We never take pictures when we deliver a homeless care kit. And, pictures being so much of how we “read” things these days, it has been hard to communicate the experience.
I feel like I should share what happened when we delivered one recently. My two boys and I were off to an event, I made a wrong turn (I always turn the wrong way on that street . . .), and we found ourselves seeing need.
There was an older man sleeping in full winter clothes in the dead heat of a Texas summer. He was sprawled out on a park bench with a beat-up stroller parked beside him. One arm was reaching for the stroller as if to guard his belongings while he was sleeping. Physically, he was in bad shape.
I parked the car. Something about him immediately caused all of us in the car to be quiet. You know, that kind of quiet that is a hushed reverence. Without even getting out of the car, our hearts were touched by his predicament. We pulled a homeless care kit out of the glove compartment (we keep one there all the time just in case this happens . . . an idea from Candid Slice) and walked over to him. Something other than ourselves was pulling us to reach out and help this man.
We quietly placed the sock into his stroller and returned to the car.
And, we were quiet. Quiet as we buckled up. Quiet as I pulled away and started driving to our destination.
“Mom, I am glad we gave that man a Pennies of Time sock,” my four year old quietly said from his car seat (this boy NEVER says anything quietly).
“Mom, that man really has true need. I am glad we didn’t wake him up. I bet he never finds a place to sleep,” my six year old stated, breaking his own silence a few minutes later.
I didn’t have to say a word. My eyes were full of tears and my heart was full of gratitude for the maturing that is occurring in my boys.
The transaction was basically wordless from the point that we first saw him sleeping on the park bench to driving away from that same park bench. I usually need to ask questions to help my kids reflect after we help someone. They did it all on their own this time.
My children have grown immensely since we started Pennies of Time. Have the courage to let your children be awesome. Teach kids to serve. It is worth it.