Blessed to be a Blessing!

19 Oct

Blessed to be a Blessing!

I believe with all my heart that we are blessed to be a blessing.   I personally have much to be grateful for.   When I take the time to be thankful, it causes me to realize that I have much to give!  I am not talking about money although sometimes if it is needed and I have it, I do try to be generous.  What I am really talking about is giving what money alone cannot buy! I can give a smile, a helping hand to a neighbor, I can give a meal, I can visit the sick, I can reach out to someone who needs to be encouraged over the phone etc.  The possibilities are endless.  I am a firm believer in paying kindness forward!  I wanted to share a story about paying kindness forward! I apologize it is a little lengthy but well worth the effort.  May we all do the same as Eric!

Recently I heard a story of a man who went undercover. For the sake of this sharing I am going to call the undercover gentleman Eric.  Eric wanted to see what would happen if he blessed a real homeless man with some money and other much needed items.    He and a camera crew had been secretly watching a homeless gentleman who was sleeping on a park bench for a few nights.  The homeless gentleman only had a duffle bag for his possessions that he used as a pillow while he slept. 

As the crew spied out the gentlemen, they all decided they wanted to participate in being a blessing to him!  Because it was late October, the nights were getting pretty cold so the crew had a meeting of the minds to discuss what they believed the homeless man needed immediately.   Each of the crew took their part of a list they devised.  Together they purchased gifts like a winter coat, socks, flannel shirts, a sleeping bag, toiletries, and gift cards to the local motels and restaurants in the area. The crew also started a money fund and shared their plans with many of their friends who shared with their friends and so on.  To Eric and the crew’s amazement they were able, though the generosity of friends and strangers, to raise around twenty thousand dollars. 

 Early one morning, after about a week of spying on the gentleman, Eric and his friends decided it was time to try to befriend the homeless gentlemen. Eric went to a local bakery and bought breakfast both for himself and for the gentlemen.   When he approached the park bench, he gently shook the homeless gentleman to awake him.  As the two men’s eyes met, Eric looked deep into the face of the homeless gentleman.  Through his eyes and the hard lines upon his face, Eric knew that this man had had a lot of pain and needed a break.  Eric hoped that he and the crew even if it was temporary could help bless him for this moment in time!

The homeless man being startled rose up rather quickly with fear in his eyes.  Eric immediately extended his hand to shake the stranger’s hand.  Eric assured him that everything was okay. He just wanted to share his breakfast with him.  When the gentlemen sat upright, he continued to look rather mistrusting into Eric’s face in disbelief that someone just wanted to do something nice for him.  Eric introduced himself very quickly and handed the gentleman a hot cup of coffee.

 “What’s your name?”  Eric asked. The gentleman’s eyes suddenly seemed to come alive. “Artie,” the man answered. 

Eric asked if he could share the bench, as the gentleman slide over.

When seated Eric opened up the bag with the food and handed the gentlemen a hot breakfast sandwich and took out one for himself and began to talk.

 “Well, Artie, it is great to meet you, I hope you like hot breakfast sandwiches.  I have a ham, egg, and cheese for you!”

 The man quickly unwrapped the sandwich and practically devoured it.  The men sat silently as Eric wanted to give the homeless man a chance to eat his food while it was still warm.  After the sandwiches, Eric reached back into bag and pulled out some warm donuts for dessert.  The homeless man then smiled and shook his head in delight when he saw Eric present him with something else.  In the meantime the camera crew, with video rolling, was already in tears as they witnessed what was happening before them.  They witnessed a face full of despair and saddened eyes come alive as Eric simply reached out in kindness with a simple gesture of sharing breakfast.  They couldn’t wait to see the look on the gentleman’s face once Eric presented him with all of the other gifts they wanted to bless him with. 

After breakfast, Eric then asked the gentleman “If it is not too much to ask, how did you fall on such hard times as to be homeless?” 

Artie freely began sharing his heartbreaking story of him and his wife Sharon living a “normal life.” They were childhood sweethearts growing up in Brooklyn. They married strait out of high school and worked to get through college.  Sharon was a school teacher and he was a skilled maintenance technician at a plant. One day as his wife was coming out of the school where she taught, a gang that had it in for one of the high school students opened fire outside in the parking lot and emptied their guns as bullets riveted cars.  One of the stray bullets immediately hit his wife Sharon in the head and lodged in her brain.  She was placed on life support where Artie tried to keep her alive for as long as he could.  Almost six weeks later, sadly his wife died.  He explained that something in him died too.

“I tried to keep it together for a little while, but I couldn’t stand going back to our empty home without Sharon.  Because I wouldn’t leave her side, I lost my job.  The hospital bills came rolling in and were thousands of dollars, so I sold our vehicles, and our home before I lost them, took what equity I had and paid as much of the bill as I could after I bought my wife one more gift.  Sounds crazy to call it a gift, but she loved angels! I bought her a proper headstone that looked like an angel.  That’s what she was to me, my angel.  She deserved at least that much,” Artie said as he swallowed hard to fight back the tears.  “We never had children, both of our parents have passed, I had no one else. It just seemed that I could get lost in this big ol city and who would care? ” Artie continued. “I think you are only the second person I’ve actually had a conversation with since last year sometime….Ah I don’t remember.”

“Artie, I am so touched by your story,” Eric said with tears in his eyes.  “Well, I want to be honest with you.  Have you ever heard of a thing called pay kindness forward, or pay it forward?”

Artie smiled gently and said, “Oh yeah, Sharon and I used to go to our local homeless shelters and volunteer to serve.  My wife especially tried to reach out to the children.  We again just did what we could. I still volunteer sometimes, as they will let me get a hot shower and a hot meal.”  Artie stated.

“Well, that is why I am here with you!  I must be honest, we’ve been spying on you for the past few days and nights to try to get a feel for what we could do to bless you.”

“Bless me, but why?” Artie asked. “Oh you’ve already done that.  Anytime I get to talk about my Sharon is blessing enough.  My story wasn’t always sad. No sir, Sharon and I loved each other passionately.  She was the most loving person I had ever known.  I guess being out here you just forget that people are just people, many just like me, just trying to deal!”  Artie continued.

“Artie, we believe you deserve a few gifts yourself!”  Eric said.  “Do you mind if I introduce you to my friends?” 

“Nah, I don’t mind.  Honestly, it just feels good to actually talk to someone.  Somehow it seems like if I could just talk about Sharon that she is not that far away!”  Artie said with a smile.

When Eric gave the signal the camera crew came out of hiding.  They smiled and each introduced themselves as they shook Artie’s hand. 

“Do you mind if we keep filming?”  Eric asked.

“Nah, I don’t guess so.”  Artie replied.

“Okay Artie, let’s begin by taking care of the obvious.  We see you have a duffle bag, Is this all of your possessions?”  Eric asked.

Artie answered, “Yes, I guess when your living out here you travel light!”  Then he smiled again.

“Well we know the nights are getting colder and we wanted to do something that was practical to help you so here are a few gifts for you.”  Eric said as one of the crew members handed him a garbage bag filled with gifts.  Eric then handed the bag to Artie who was just stunned.

“Go ahead Artie, everything in this bag is yours!”

When Artie took the bag he began opening up his gifts, the winter jacket, flannel shirts, blanket, socks, and toiletries.  He smiled as he shared with the crew.

“I just remembered packing the same kind of supplies when my wife and I volunteered at the homeless shelter.  I never realized then that I would be homeless and receive the same kind of compassion extended to me.   Thank you Eric and all of you, I am touched.”

“Wait, we’re just getting started, Eric said as the others nodded in agreement!”   Once again one of the crew members placed a huge envelope in Eric’s hand.  Who then opened the envelope himself and handed Artie what was inside.

One by One Eric handed Artie gift cards and certificates to restaurants and motels.

Artie becomes overwhelmed and was literally sobbing by this time.  He practically fell on Eric’s chest and sobs.  After he gets his composure Eric then pulls out the biggest surprise. 

“Artie, because people do have compassion and they want to see you do well, I have a final gift for you. People wanted to be kind and do something that could possibly make a difference in your life!” Eric said as he handed a check to Artie for Twenty Thousand Dollars.

“No man, this is not real!”  Artie said as his eyes were full of tears.  “Man this can’t be real, this can’t be happening to me!”  Artie continued as he looked Eric square in the eyes, which by this time was also in tears.

“Artie, we promise you this is real.  You are looking at real people that are gathered around you that care about you, and many more that made a contribution once they knew what we wanted to do for you.   We know that these gifts can never heal your heartbreak, but we want you to know that we care, man!  If you want to try to start all over,  hopefully this could get you started man.”

Paying kindness forward didn’t only bless Artie’s life but all who were involved in being the blessing.  This story although a little lengthy could be a true story.  Many people have painful, heartbreaking situations that knock them down in life!  I hope it has touched you enough to  spread a little kindness to people you meet as you go on your way today!  Blessings to you my friends! 

 

 

  

 

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