He approached my passenger side door and mimicked eating as a way of asking for money for food. My first reaction was fear. I wanted to lock the car door, but was ashamed of being afraid of a homeless person. He went away.
When my husband returned to the car we went around the corner to continue our errands. This time my husband stayed in the car while I went into the store. Upon returning to the car, the same homeless man approached me. Again, I rebuffed him. When I entered the car my husband saw a look of distress on my face and asked what was wrong, and at that same time, the homeless man approached on the driver’s side door. My husband gave money to him. I had been given two chances to do the right thing, but I didn’t.
Today, I visited the Celebration Center for Spiritual Living, and Reverend Hall invited members to talk about miracles they had seen or experienced. A lady in the congregation told a story of a time when one of her mentally ill clients began wailing in a doctors waiting room. The other waiting patients became overtly annoyed with the expectation that the attendant would remove the woman. The attendant said she didn’t know what came over her, but she stood and loudly proclaimed “there but for the grace of God, go I”, and suddenly silence blanketed the room, even the mentally ill person quieted down.
It was then that I realized the answer to my dilemma regarding giving to panhandlers… there but for the grace of God… go I.