Thursday, November 17, 2005

Benediction

...an invocation of divine blessing....

I’m rarely without $20 and a credit card in my pocket when I ride. Food. My concern is food: weekend rides have a way of growing along with the day and the weather, and I hate to have a beautiful pedal cut short because I have no engine left.

But this was a quick weekday afternoon summer spin, checking out my old ride to see if it would be comfortable for an upcoming tour using my mountain bike shoes and pedals. I wouldn’t be far from home since it was a quick spin after lunch -- grabbed three ones from my purse and stuffed them into my pocket in case a coffee shop called to me. I hopped the Greenway through uptown to Park Ave. and headed north to the River Road through the old flour-milling district. It was a beautiful afternoon. I skirted downtown on 3rd and headed toward the bike highway just as rush hour was beginning.

I don’t quite know what it was about this man on the corner. He clutched his sign, stood on the cement while the horde sat in its car at the stoplight and then passed him rushing to somewhere on a beautiful afternoon. Tall, proud to be a part of all of us, humble; he watched, not with accusations nor pleading nor indignation, but with humility and concern. This man watched us all with quiet intensity.

I hopped off the bike and crossed in front of the traffic that was stopped at the light. On the way to the other side I grabbed at what was in my jersey pocket and held it toward him, suddenly aware of how paltry it was. I looked at my out-held hand. There I was with my “old” bicycle, with a home in a safe neighborhood, a dependable car, a job.

I had $3.

My feet slowed and I couldn’t look at him, unsure of what to say. Words couldn’t come. What I offered him amounted to nothing.

He received me with grace and warmth, with a genuine smile and warm words of thanks. He blessed me; he God-blessed me and thanked me, and he wished me to have a wonderful day.

I was unworthy of his grace.

May he do whatever he wants with it! The poor will be judged on the use they have made of their alms, and you will be judged on the very alms that you could have given but haven't.
-- St. John Vianney (more thoughts...)

- humbled old bag

7 comments:

Ptelea said...

You may have only given him $3 but you also gave him some respect because you recognized and acknowledged his basic human dignity. That may have been worth more than the cash.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

"I was unworthy of his grace."

It's amazing how we are given so much more than what we give, isn't it?

the old bag said...

It was an overwhelming experience...one that will be with me always.

Thanks to both of you for stopping by.

- TOB

Trée said...

Beautiful and thought provoking post. I agree with ptelea. I would imagine he experiences a sense of being invisible in that most people refuse to make eye contact of even acknowledge his existence. You did both and then you shared the experience with us to broaden all our hearts in this holiday season. Thanks for posting.

the old bag said...

Thanks for stopping by, Trée.

I truly was on the receiving end.

- TOB

Dan Cleary said...

Beautiful. Benediction. You made my day with that story. Happy Holidays.

the old bag said...

Thanks Dan. Happy Holidays to you as well!