I feel so much better. I carried that guilt around for about a week. That homeless man had asked so imploringly, saying it was for rooms for others. His second most distinctive characteristic was that he was very well spoken and had a rich voice. He was thin and tan looking (or was that dirt?), and with a sharp suit and clean shirt could have easily passed himself off as a high-up executive with a San Tropez tan. Last week he had cuts on his face. This week he had been tended to with thin bandages. His most distinctive characteristic was his eyes. Penetrating grey/blue and very kind. What if this was really Jesus and this situation some kind of test for me?
If it was a test I failed miserably. Why didn’t I give him a stinking little dollar? I had so much. I was walking to the train from my good job to go home to my nice house. Was the money tucked too deep in my handbag? What the hell? I didn’t give those kind penetrating eyes or those outstretched hands anything but pity. More pity for me, and shame on me.
This week I recognized him. He wasn’t asking for money. He was pushing the button on the pay phone. Tough luck Buddy – everyone has cell phones now. No one is leaving change behind in a pay phone. No one even has change. As he faced the phone I took out a dollar and put it in front of him. He blessed me and thanked me. I am the lucky one because I got rid of all that guilt and made amends.
Making amends is one of the twelve steps. It may not change the history of a situation, but making amends or saying you are sorry is an act that is very cleansing to your soul. If you can’t approach the person you feel you wronged, you can write them a letter and never send it, or just pretend to say you are sorry to them in your head. Do you need to make amends?
If you see people asking for money this holiday season, think about giving them something. It helps them, and it will make you feel great. This holiday I give thanks for being able to perhaps make a small difference in the lives of others.
I still don’t like mending.