She stood on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. She couldn't have been more than 20. She held herself humbly and very still. "Homeless Female. Anything Helps."
I bought her trail mix, gummy vitamins, and sunscreen chapstick. They seemed like good gifts for the street. But as I gave them over, I felt sick with the smallness of it.
Usually the homeless are men or older women and I--young and small--don't feel comfortable doing more than handing them some object to fill a need, giving a humanizing smile and kind word, and moving on. But I could see myself in her. I wanted to scoop her in my arms, bring her home with me like a cat nobody wanted, and make sure she was safe.
I drove home.
There is an agonizing ache in my heart that is new. Before I cracked myself open to loving kindness, the ache was dull. Now it cries furiously. It weeps that I am weak and cannot do enough. It squirms uncomfortably in the skin it has been given.
Before I turned up the audio on my heart of compassion, I could feel innocent. I could feel exempt. It could be someone else's problem. It is easy to find reasons to do nothing. Doing nothing maintains the status quo. Doing nothing protects my position as someone who has worked hard and earned my place in this world, looking down on the stupid decision makers, the rebels, the freaks. But crack open that window to compassion, and the cry of your heart will erupt! It is punishing and hard.
The temptation is to run from the discomfort, the friction, the dissonance.
Inside that tense space between "I did what I could" and "I can't do enough" is a lot of fear that makes us want to close the door and go back to the silence of doing nothing.
Can we agree to be conflicted and press on? What else can we do?
Let's try not to overthink.
Let's do it... whatever it is... no matter how small.
None of it is enough.
But love adds up.
One man convicted me to give willingly to the homeless whenever I can. A Buddhist Monk in a documentary film. Throughout the movie, whenever he passed anyone asking for money, he gave it to them. ALL of them. Even if there were 8 in a row... clink, clink, clink... in when his money into the cups. He never passed an open palm without pressing something into it. No questions. No judgements. No weighing of the pros and cons.
Love like that could change the world. It changed mine.
Even if it wasn't "enough", his act said: "I see you. I will bend my path toward yours and bend--however briefly--to meet you where you are." Seeing that demonstrated so simply radically changed the way I move through this world.
So I started acting on it... one by one... giving what I was able, when I was able. When I saw a need, I automatically assume that the Lord has called me to help meet it.
My husband started to notice.
Then he started to give.
I bet people at his work will begin to notice his giving, and then maybe they will begin to show love to the low also...
Because love is utterly contagious.
It has to be... because we can't do enough on our own. But we can do enough together.