Where I grocery shop, every now and again I see a homeless or poor man with a cardboard sign that reads “Homeless. Need food”, “Got no place to live, looking for someplace to stay for the night”, “A couple dollars would be appreciated”, “Looking for work, anything will do”, or “Have no money and no home, need clothes for the winter.” A couple of times, I have even seen whole families like this.
When this happens my wife and I try to help out with a few bucks here, and there. We have even given some of our unused winter clothes and some blankets to a family. But is wasn’t until recently that we saw a seemingly homeless man holding up a sign that read “Have you thanked God for today?” Wow …… I never thought a poor homeless man would have something to offer me. Insight. Wisdom. My own personal Mr. Wendell (an old song by Arrested Development ….. never mind). I wish had taken a picture of him for this post, but I didn’t think of it at the time.
How about that, a poor homeless man in a state of gratitude for still being alive. There was even a smile on his face.
We can choose to be happy people. We can continue to sulk, stress, and worry about all the riches we don’t have. OR, we can be embrace and be grateful for the basic riches we DO have. The best riches: Sunshine, fresh air, life/health, clean food, loved ones, ……. that’s it. If we have those, we have everything.
What else is there? sports cars, large real estate, pool, Armani suits, a summer place near the beach?
TOYS. All of them. These are all just toys. The real riches life has to offer are the ones most of us already have.
So …. when I am feeling “down and out”:
- I think about the poor man with that sign.
- I think about a friend of mine who used to be homeless, who saw 9/11 happen from the city rooftop on which he slept. He now works in my building, and is overjoyed with his small life. He also happens to be one of the wisest people I know.
- I think of Monks, Peace Corps volunteers, and all the people who have taken a simple life in the service of others that don’t concern themselves over the unnecessary stresses that middle class America covet.
- I think of children. How they are perfectly happy with the simplest joys in life. How they get joy from giving love freely, and do not judge.
- I think of the prison inmate that just got out of prison after 5+ years who hasn’t felt the sunlight and the wind on his face in all that time. He is grateful, and will never take it for granted again.
If we have our health and sunshine, we are rich. But if we also have family, then we have everything.
Have you thanked God for today?