It’s painfully cold today. Right as I open the door of my car the wind whips right through me. I’m trying to balance all my bags before I start my walk into work. Oversized tote with hair products and notebooks on the right arm, makeup bag on the left wrist, my “show” shoes in my right hand. Wait. Where’s the orange? Found it. Granola bar? At the bottom of the tote. I carry those in my left hand.
Walking across the parking lot. I bet he’s not there. It’s is way too cold today. The wind chill is 10. I’m in full weather gear. Long wool trench coat, the moss green infinity scarf my mom knit me and my favorite beanie. As I turn the corner up 4th I squint my eyes to see if he’s there. I don’t think so. I can usually see his blue sleeping bag by now. I cross the street and walk by the bus stop any way.
He was there twice last week. His royal blue sleeping bag covers the bench. It’s so flat it could almost pass as a couch cushion. His black, plastic garbage bag sits above his head. But I can’t see his head because it’s always covered. The first day he had a Papa John’s pizza box on top of it. I just quietly laid my banana and granola bar on top. Hope he likes bananas and peanut butter granola. I wonder if he eats it for breakfast. Or does he try to save it? Or maybe trade it? I brought an orange today because I think he would like to wake up his mouth with that sweet watery taste instead of a mushy banana. And he may not have anything to drink. And he may be sick of bananas.
I’ve never seen him. He’s my “Jesus friend.” Jesus said whatever we do for the poor, we do for Him . What we never did for the poor, we never did for Him. The very week I read that in Matthew, this man..or woman I suppose.. started sleeping on this bench I’ve walked by for the last couple years. And so I think of Jesus when I see him.
Before now, I never gave to the homeless or even made eye contact. Unless you count the really tall guy who stays at Keiner Plaza and has a thick Caribbean accent and always wants to be on camera when we look for people on the street to interview. He’s so happy. I’ve put him on too. He told me Yadi was his favorite Cardinal. He never asked me for money. If he did, I would have said no. I would assume he wanted it for drugs or alcohol. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to think? So now I carry snacks.
I don’t know my Jesus friend. I just drop off the food and quickly move on so I don’t wake him/ her.
It’s my little mystery that I now look forward to every work day. I may never see the face under the sleeping bag. But I can daydream about it. I do. All the way to the station. What does he look like? Where does he go once he gets up? Does my small donation make a difference? Lift his spirits? Will we talk one day?
I know it sounds silly. Leaving just an orange and breakfast bar and thinking that’s going to change someone’s life.
Even if it doesn’t make a difference in his mornings, it changes mine. I now think about him on my way into the station. It slows down my brain. I don’t find myself trying to remember everything I have to do today because I’m thinking of him. I feel blessed. Blessed to have a job, to be safe, to have a home.
And I wonder what the world would be like if we all had a Jesus friend? Anyone. Someone to take our minds off ourselves even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. You gotta start somewhere, right? And what would happen if that tiny sliver of our heart devoted to giving- grew? And we all started doing even more for more “Jesus friends?” If we all started thinking less about ourselves- and that sliver of love started to spread and take over our hearts. What would that look like?
I’m just outside the building. Readjusting my tote as I fumble through my keys to unlock the door. This is when I usually drop all those unselfish, pleasant thoughts. They often fall out as I’m walking up the stairs, or as I’m passing the clock and checking to see how late I am. But today I have something to help me hold onto them. A big, bright orange. I place it on my desk. Hoping it will wake up the tiny sliver in my heart.