“God loves us all and tells us to love one another,” said the Minister, raising his voice to make the point.
And with warm smiles the congregation nods its approval. In a house of worship, it is easy to love all of mankind and soothing to the conscience. But if you agree with this concept, could you find it in your heart to love those in need, those who may have no-one else?
Shane (not his real name) appears to be homeless. His worn clothes are sometimes filthy and his blond graying hair is occasionally matted against his head. Most days he sits on park benches, or in the library reading or walking along the seashore or in meditation.
He’s 6 foot 5 inches tall, which may intimidate some people and his bedraggled appearance may offend others. But Shane is quiet and respectful and he doesn’t ask for money, nor is he addicted to drugs. He is personable, thoughtful and very well read.
Shane is 48-years-old and all alone. His parents and older sister died in recent years, leaving him a tiny house in Redondo Beach, CA. He owns a small old car he seldom drives for he can’t afford to.
When Shane graduated from high school in 1978, he got a construction job and for more than 20-years was almost always employed as he learned every construction trade. Once, with the use of day laborers, he built a house in its entirety.
But Shane was born with leukemia and it eventually took its toll on him.
Several years ago, it flared and weakened him. One day on a construction site, Shane got dizzy and fell from a second story roof. While his injuries weren’t severe, his leukemia was and unable to work, he gradually went through much of his savings.
To stretch his money, when he got hungry, he would occasionally look for food in trash cans.
But he was able to get medical treatment under a government program. About two years ago he felt well enough to go back to work.
Shane soon got hired and after congratulating him, I didn’t see him again. That is until recently. It seems his leukemia has flared once more and for now he is not healthy enough to work.
Sitting alone on a park bench by the ocean, when he saw me walk up, he smiled and firmly shook my hand. He had someone who took an interest in him.
It can be easy to love those closest to us. And we can generally find love for others who fit within our social sphere. But it is the lonely and those who are down on their luck who desperately need our love and who would appreciate a kind word or a helping hand.
Today (12/21) I sat with Shane on a park bench next to the ocean and we talked as we watched the waves roll-in.
Just then a young couple walked up and greeted him. “It’s getting awfully cold at night,” the man said. “We thought you could use these gloves.” And with warm smiles they gave them to him and he happily thanked them as they walked-off.
It is amazing how a kind word or gesture and the interest of others can make such a difference in the life of someone who is down. Shane beamed as he looked at his new gloves, largely because that couple really cared and went out of their way for him.
And our story ends happily. “I’m feeling better,” Shane said to me a few minutes later as a broad smile crossed his face. “Soon I’ll be able to exercise and I think this Spring I’ll be able to go back to work.”