Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I couldn't just drive away.

Today I was running errands with the toddler (who, by the way wore undies-not panties-all day!) and I had an experience that I just couldn't keep to myself.

We were leaving the craft store and there was an older black man sitting in one of the rocking chairs out front. I didn't really pay much attention to him because I see people sitting in them all the time while they wait for their significant other to be done shopping. He saw Sophia and said "Hello there pretty lady!". She looked over and grinned, and again I didn't really take notice because she gets called cute and pretty all the time when we're out ( I've realized that old people love little girls with pigtails and big old bows). He reached into his grocery bag and held out a sweetgrass rose* and said "Here cutie-want a flower?" Immediately I thought this going to end badly, because he's going to want money for the flower and I have no cash on me, and Sophia's going to have a meltdown right here in the entryway because she wants the flower. She toddled her way over and he said "Ask your momma to purchase you a flower so I can eat tonight". She looked at me expectantly and I told him, my heart breaking, that I didn't have any cash on me, and I was so sorry. He said "Oh, that's alright. She can keep the flower." I asked if he was sure, and he looked at me with very earnest eyes and said "Positively." Sophia held on to that flower and showed every person we passed in the parking lot her 'pitty fower' and it was so sweet. I looked back at the man and he just grinned and rocked.

I got to the car, strapped Sophia in and went to pull out my ID to get into base housing, and saw the corner of a bill sticking out of my wallet. I looked and sure enough, I had $2 in there. I NEVER have cash, and couldn't remember why it was in there. I thought about it and realized that it was money that I was going to give the boys for offering at church on Sunday, but we stayed home because Jonah & Sophia had bad coughs. I was going to use it to grab a couple things yesterday, but my total always came to more than two dollars. This chain of events, coupled with that man's earnest eyes and his desire to just give up one of his precious, handmade sweetgrass flowers (that we've paid $5-7 for before to downtown basketmakers) brought tears to my eyes, and I felt a hand on my heart. I pulled around in the parking lot and put the car in park right in front of the store and the man in the rocker, got out and handed him the two dollars. "I don't understand" he said. I told him that he had given my daughter a flower when we passed him and I said I didn't have any cash, but when I got into the car I saw that I did, so I wanted to give it to him. I apologized that it wasn't much, but told him he could use it for a burger from the dollar menu somewhere. I couldn't just drive away having found that two dollars and knowing he just trying to eat. He thanked me and said "You didn't have to pay for it you know. I just wanted the pretty girl to be happy and have a flower. But thank you for being so honest. It's alot more than I can say for some people. I'm just trying to get by, and it's only because of people like you that I can." I smiled at him and wished him a blessed day, and drove off feeling very happy.

I thought about it all the way home, and told my mom about it on the phone soon after. She said that she maybe he was an angel, and God sent him to 'test' Christians and their hearts. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and she said that it was just too much of a coincidence that we didn't go to church on Sunday and we didn't use the cash during the week, and then this man needed to eat and that money was still in my wallet today. Those two measly dollars might be that poor man's only meal all week.

Things have been a bit on the stressful side for me lately and I've been worrying like you wouldn't believe. But since those fleeting five minutes earlier this afternoon, I've had a peace about me. And I feel like I did the Lord's work today, even in a small, small way.

*Sweetgrass is a tall reed plant that grows in abundance in the marshes all over the lowcountry. The blades of the reeds are wound together to create stunning baskets and wreaths. It is a beautiful art form that has passed down through the generations of black families in the lowcountry whose ancestory dates back to the slave era. They are painstakingly made by hand and take lots of time to complete...sometimes months. The pricetags on these items are not cheap, but it is a way of life for alot of the older generation.


Julie said...

wow jen, thanks for this post! sometimes its the simple things in life that make the biggest difference!

Sarah said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing.

Vanessa said...

It's so amazing to see God's hand in the details of our day to day.