Veteran's Day, after leaving a program at the elementary school, I had to run and pick up a few things. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a man sitting on the ground with a "Need Work" sign. I said a quick prayer for him and kept going. As I shopped, my mind drifted back to him. I've seen him before downtown. He's always got a ready smile and a kind word.
When I went out to my van, I looked across the lot and saw him still sitting there with his dog. I looked in the back of the van and saw two bottles of water. The day had started heating up a little, despite the wind. I grabbed them and wondered if I should try to put together a few more dollars and pick up something he could eat. But unfortunately, at the end of the pay period I had enough budgeted for what I'd picked up and nothing more. So, I pulled the van closer to his resting place, got out and walked over to him. He looked at me and I asked if he wanted the water.
"It would certainly help" he said.
As I reached towards him, his dog started jumping around. I was worried he was going to knock the poor man over. The man smiled and calmed the dog.
"He's just excited to see you. He knows you have something in your hand and wants to know what it is."
He took the water and thanked me.
"God bless you" I said.
"He has" was his reply as he held the water up, smiling at me.
I went back to my van and turned to look at the man and his dog. He was sitting on the ground, pouring water in a bowl for the dog. Then he took a drink and carefully put the water bottle back in his backpack.
I never realized how beautiful a dirty, ragged homeless man could look until I saw the smile on his face. How blessed I was by his happiness and gratitude. How humbled by his life.