37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
– Matthew 25: 37-40
“I’m parked in front of the post office,” I told my husband warily, my eyes on the man sitting on the curb. “There is a homeless man sitting with his dog.”
“Ooookay,” my husband, the patient one, said.
“I have food in the back of my car I was going to take to the food pantry,” I mumble anxiously, as the man seems to have noticed me now. “Should I go see if he needs some?”
The food I have in the back of my car is there by the grace of God. Some portable things that our church had asked for for the food pantry – portable protein like packages of spam and cheese and peanut butter crackers.
“Well, you can ask him if he needs some food,” my husband said practically.
“Yeah, but what if I offend him? What if he is out of his mind and violent?” This is a familiar feeling for me. Stunted by fear.
“Well, then don’t go up to him. Come home.”
“Ugh, I’m such a coward. I am SUCH a coward.” I chew my lip and sigh.
“If you’re going to beat yourself up, you might as well talk to him.” My husband offered his final piece of advice and we ended the call.
Thirty seconds later I had my hands full with several packages of spam and a box of peanut butter crackers. As I approached the man, I avoided his eyes. His sweet dog jumped up to bark at me and the man swatted the dog quite hard. It startled me. I kept my eyes down.
The man looked like he was in his seventies, but he was likely younger. Hard living had aged him and his white beard hung down to his chest, his slender hands blackened with tattoos. His eyes were watery and sad. His dog looked healthier than he did.
When the man and I looked into each other’s eyes, I quickly said. “I… uhm… I have this food. Would this be something you and your dog could use?”
I gulped. The man looked at my hands. And then, quickly, he said “Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.” I handed it to him and as I was walking away I felt like I should say something more. I considered saying “God bless you,” but that sounded so hokey in my head. Instead, I threw out a feeble, “You have a sweet doggie,” as I jetted back to my car.
As I was driving away, my heart pounding inside my chest, I laughed with a feeling of warmth and light swelling up inside of me. My bravery had been rewarded. And my reward was joy.