Bryan explained that the first person who acknowledged their presence was another homeless man. He had in his bag a can of chicken and three bars of soap. He offered one of the bars to Byon, who accepted it, and the other to Bryan, who did not. Bryan did not see the need for a bar of soap. Bryan said the homeless man immediately became suspicious of him, and through the week when they saw each other, would not interact with him. Byon explained that homeless people never refuse anything, even if they do not need it. He said that they then pass it on to someone who does. It’s not barter or trade, there is no expectation of receiving anything for the gift given. It is given just for the sake of giving, and the blessing that comes from doing that (even for those who have very little). It is given for the joy of giving. And to refuse the gift is to deny someone that joy.
We who are not homeless, who actually have so much, have a hard time remembering that. And we often have a hard time receiving the gifts God is offering to us. “No, thanks, God, I’m good.” The truth is, we deny God the pleasure of giving to us, and we do not pass on his gifts to those who need it so much.
These days I find myself giving away lots of things- books, clothes, toys, knick-knacks, records (that lets you know how long I have had some things)- and it gives me joy when I do. I also find myself giving more financially to my church, to helping groups in the community, to people I know having a hard time. Because of that, there are things I do not do. I drive a 10-year-old car that’s beginning to fall apart, and I think this may be the last car I ever own. I’m okay with that. I don’t go on many trips, and I actually wear all the clothes in my closet at least a couple of times a month.
But I find myself on the receiving end of so much. My life is at peace, I have a wonderful spouse, some really good friends, a church community that I absolutely love, and often (embarrassingly) find myself tearing up at how good I have it. None of it deserved, all of it appreciated. I have learned to take the soap.
And I hope and pray that I can give it to all I meet these days.
Thanks for the lesson, Bryon and Byon!