"That'll be five cents, please."
“There are varieties of approaches, but the same Bums” - 1 Theo 4:12
Last summer saw me hit one of the most stressful and angry times of my life. Ever. Those who know me well know that it takes A LOT to get me angry. Stress is a different story, but I am pretty good at not stressing over small stuff. So, suffice to say that I was in a pretty shitty place. It was so bad, in fact, that my well-honed ability to put a positive spin on (a.k.a. see the blessing in) any situation was utterly unable to spin me out of the feelings of anger and betrayal.
It was weird.
So it was during the first couple weeks of this “strangry” time - when my feelings were the most raw - that I was out with some friends having pizza at Piece, a pizzeria & brew pub near my apartment. I ended up leaving the group a little bit early because the strangriness welled up inside and I just needed to be by myself. I got up, excused myself, and started to walk home.
Walking along the sidewalk with my mind reeling and going over and over and over again the succession of events that got me to this place; thinking of ways to deal with it all; screwed up face; tears dripping their way across stubble and into my beard. I was looking straight ahead, but with my mind whirring at breakneck speed, I only saw as much as I needed to avoid walking into anything. I was in something of a state of shock, I think.
Five minutes into my walk and halfway home, as I walked along the sidewalk of Milwaukee Avenue looking like the sky had just fallen on me, I suddenly noticed a Homeless Guy walking towards me. As he neared, he held out his hand. I stopped and grabbed it.
“It’s OK, man. It’s not all THAT bad.” he says. He could clearly see my screwed-up face.
My mind was yanked out of its strangriness spiral for a moment. It hit me that this random stranger had just given a kind word where one was desperately needed. I felt a little bit better, and shook the hand that I’d just grabbed:
“Thanks, man. I know. I know. You’re right. Thank you!”
I realized that this guy was my angel. I mean, I really believe in angels: people, animals, things that God uses to help us out when we need it. This was just the right word at just the right time. I began to consider how wonderful it was to have a Random Stranger Homeless Guy bless me in this way. And that made me feel a little better, too.
I stopped shaking his hand, released it, and thanked him again as I walked past him, continuing my way home. I was only two steps beyond him when I heard him say,
“Hey man, have you got a dollar?”
Even Balaam’s ass was still an ass after God spoke through him.