Tuesday was a full day. I woke up late and had to be at the dentist pronto with my 5-year-old in tow for cleanings. After that, there was school to be done and bread and soup to be made before an afternoon playdate. I also had a freelance deadline looming.
A full day. Everything would fit, but everything had to be done efficiently and well. Despite waking up late, we made it to the dentist on time and with no cavities.
When we got home, I chatted with Matt and he headed off to work. Roger needed a toy from the car, so I hollered instructions to the girls about school starting in 5 minutes and took Roger outside. Everything was going to plan.
And then a homeless guy’s garbage bag with all his earthly belongings split open right behind my car.
A neighbor had been walking and talking with him; now, he tried to keep talking awkwardly while the homeless man turned his attention to his stuff, pushing a large plastic frame back into the tattered bag. It was pitiful.
“Do you want a new bag?” I asked. He nodded and I headed inside. Over the course of the next half an hour, I brought out two garbage bags, a duffel, a sandwich, an apple, and a McDonald’s cup refilled with water (new straw, though!).
The neighbor came back with some cash and said, “I’m sorry for your troubles, man. I hope things look up for you.” I never got around to asking the man about his troubles. Or much of anything, really. We talked a little bit, but I had the sense I didn’t have much more to offer him than that duffel and some food.
I wanted to offer, should have made a way to bring up, Jesus…but I didn’t. I’m not sure why. I felt weird, awkward even, standing in my own driveway while a strange man inhaled an apple. The other things on my agenda ran through my mind and won out. I said my goodbyes and wished him well. By the time Roger tried to run back out with another garbage bag “gift,” he had already started walking up the street.
And that was it. There was school to be done, soup to be made, reports to be edited. That man lingered in my mind. I wondered where he was headed and how he had a therapist given his life and if I had done enough.
I still don’t know. But as I looked down at my own little boy, I realized that where there is a boy, there is likely a mother. There are probably many miles between that homeless man and his mother, emotional ones if not physical. She probably doesn’t know where he is or what he’s up to.
I can’t imagine not knowing where my boy is, not knowing what he’s up to or if he’s safe. Whether he has somewhere to stay or food in his belly.
I may not have presented the gospel in its fullness, but I fed some mother’s child. One of God’s creatures. And maybe sometimes that’s enough.