He stands there on the corner again with the sign that says he’s homeless. But today, today is different. Today he’s got a crutch and a cast on his left foot.
I wonder if he remembers when I’ve given him granola bars. I wonder why he remains homeless. But I play with my phone, hoping he won’t stop at my open car window, as I have no granola bars and I don’t hand out money on the street.
“Hey, girl, how are you today?” he asks. As I look up into his smiling face, I can’t help but tell him he’s wearing a beautiful smile for someone with a banged-up foot. His smile broadens at being seen, and he tells me he’s trying to get a couple of dollars to get some food and catch the bus back to the shelter. I make small talk about how he ended up so far from the shelter, and then the light changes so that I can drive away.
I turn the corner, feeling proud of myself for sticking to my rule about not handing out money. But my pride is short-lived because, despite the music from my earbuds, from far away and yet so near, Saint Francis scolds me: “He’s an image of Gd — feed him!!”
So tomorrow, tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I’ll bring him dinner.
This year I’m directing my tzdakah to organizations that help feed those who do not have the resources to feed themselves. If you don’t already have a charitable cause that is dear to you, I invite you to join me by donating to a food bank in your area.
praying a day arrives when every person has an access to nutritious food, jen
Why Saint Francis?
The stories I’ve read about Saint Francis and the quotes attributed to him suggest he saw holiness in every creature and person. And, as a young man, Francis got into trouble for giving his rich father’s money to poor people. So, when my conscience berated me for not feeding a hungry man, I immediately thought of Saint Francis.
I understand that Francis’s motivation for helping the poor was that Francis wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, while my motivation comes from the Torah’s commands to pursue justice and to leave the corners of the fields for those without food.
But I feel no need to quarrel about the theological specifics that motivated Francis’s behavior. Instead, I think of him as a man who tried to do Gd’s will.