There is a young homeless man on the corner near my apartment building. He stands there day in and day out with his dog and a sign pleading for help. I drive past him day in and day out, as do the 690,000+ residents of Nashville at some point or other.
Yesterday, I was having a particularly lovely day. I had woken up for the first time in four weeks without much pain to speak of. I had finally broken through on a song that I had been trying to write for four days. I had just had a productive morning of work and my closest friend was approved to move in next week.
Here I was, air drumming on my steering wheel, singing to For King & Country at the top of my lungs, celebrating the goodness of God, when I made eye contact with the man on the corner. And the dichotomy between my life at that very moment and his life at that very moment hit me hard. Here I was, loving life and all of its wonders, and there he was, probably wondering where he went wrong.
I was headed to the grocery store anyway and decided I would pick up a few things for him: the fixings for a few PB & jelly sandwiches, some fruit and snacks, and food for his dog. I didn't think much of it until I asked the cashier at checkout if I could please bag my own groceries. She was curious as to why I would want to bag my own groceries, so I breezed over the fact that some of the groceries were for someone else. The last thing I wanted was a pat-on-the-back, but she was a nosy one and persisted. I briefly explained about the man on the corner.
And then, guys, the coolest thing in my 22 years of existence happened. Not only did the cashier say that she was going to do the same thing after work for a different homeless man, but the two people behind me in the checkout GOT OUT OF LINE TO GET THINGS TOO. Guys. Humans. People. Is this not the most beautiful thing you've vicariously witnessed?!
So there I was, standing in Kroger, crying my eyes out (y'all know me). And all I could think about was how much time we (collectively) have spent complaining about the state of things in our world today... Mass shootings are nothing new. People don't love each other like they used to. No one has time for a conversation that doesn't involve two thumbs and a "send" button. Genuine eye contact is hard to come by. Racism. Bigotry. Hate. I could go on and on.
But our world isn't lost yet. Because yesterday, on an ordinary Tuesday over lunch hour, four people in the span of five minutes found it in their hearts to put together food for four different homeless people. There is still good in the world. We just have to see it. And be it.
And if y'all wondered, when I handed the groceries through my car window, the tears in his eyes and the "God bless you" to follow affirmed it.
On that note, I invite everyone back home to join me in being the good in the world. On Tuesday, November 21st, I will be back home in Iowa from Nashville. With the help of my family, I have decided to put on a benefit house concert (House Concert for Hunger). Doors open at 6PM, I start sangin' at 7PM. I am asking that everyone bring a minimum of $10 or the equivalent in canned goods as admission. All donations will go to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Seats are limited, so don't wait: RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, as you embark on this holiday season, think about the people who don't have family gathered around. Think about those who are eating from their laps, not on a table. Think about those who probably don't even eat at all. And do something to prove that our world isn't lost yet.