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short story: a lesson in listening, acting and confirmation

Homeless Vietnam Vet painting by jujuru of Pennsylvania, USA

 Last week I listened to a speech by a homeless man. He was asking for acknowledgment and respect from the general public. To look him in the eye as you walk by, smile, or take a moment and stop to ask how he is doing.

Yesterday as I waited for the light to change near a grocery store, I spied a sign at the edge of the road that read "Need a room for pregnant wife and baby."  The young man holding the sign could have been my son's age and the baby my grandchild.

I motioned for him to come closer as I rolled my car window down. I asked for his story. He hadn't been out of the army long and was laid off from a local company (I knew the company well). He applied everywhere he possibly could for work. Their second baby on the way was not planned. As he tells his story a smile lights up his face, with eyes that are warm and grateful.

I wasn't able to help much, but gave him what cash I had and a few encouraging words as we parted. He thanked me for asking about him and his family and for my small donation.

What I came away with from that short meeting surprised me greatly. My son was also in the army and struggled when he came home. The company that laid this man off was also the employer of a family member. And I know unplanned pregnancies can happen so easily.

That stranger on the street is my brother, my dad, my son....or me.

This morning I opened a book of daily spiritual readings, to July 6th, yesterday, and this is an excerpt of what was written:

"...withhold not from the poor the gifts which the grace of God hath bestowed upon you."

 This small lesson unfolded in a personal way and I felt compelled to share how one moment of listening lead to acting, learning and confirmation.

And I wish I had a room to give away.


  1. Wow, solemn words. It's so hard to get outside our comfort zone. I find myself walling off those I don't know. I smiled and said hello to an elderly black man sitting against a building to acknowledge him, in response, he said, "What you smirking at. I'll get up and give you something to smirk at." That left me very closed to people I meet on the street. Perhaps it's time to slow down instead of rushing by.

  2. Good Morning one heart, this story really touched me, you are right about what you said, i hope we can learn from it. and what i mostly think is that do we really respect the people no matter who they are? it is sad but true

  3. Laura, I understand exactly what you mean. Thank you for sharing something I think many people feel. It is hard to open ourselves up, particularly after such incidents, but I would encourage you to let it go and realize that for every negative encounter there will be ten positive ones!

  4. Hi Maria, yes it is sad. None of us is immune to feelings of disrespect or shutting out people because of what we perceive as reality. Our judgements are very quick to come to the forefront which can cloud our thinking and then our resulting action.

    When Laura said she may need to slow down, I think part of it is to slow down awareness so there is time to allow clearer thoughts, which can create a different outcome. Think before action! :-)

  5. Anonymous7/08/2011

    Sometimes all we need to do is smile at those around us. Helps us and hepls them.


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