“They look sad. We should give them something.”
My daughter voiced the exact words that were going through my head in that moment. We were sitting in a long line of cars waiting to turn left, having just left our favorite coffee shop.
The lady was standing near the curb, shoulders hunched dejectedly, head hanging low. The man stood a few feet away, looking lost in the middle of an empty lot. They both wore dirty, worn out clothes and it was obvious they had not had a shower or slept in a bed in a long time.
They looked haunted. Defeated. And terribly, terribly sad.
They weren’t panhandling. They weren’t holding signs or looking for handouts.
They were just there, standing in the middle of an abandoned lot near a Subway.
And as Cara put voice to my thoughts, I suspected that God was speaking to my daughter in that moment.
I turned left and drove through the parking lot to where they were sitting on the curb in front of an abandoned strip mall. I asked if I could buy them sandwiches from Subway.
After a minute of silence, without making eye contact, the lady said quietly “I like the Italian. He likes the Turkey.” I asked if they’d like me to go and get the sandwiches and bring them to them or if they wanted to come in with me.
The man said he’d come in.
We parked the car behind Subway and as we got out, the man walked up slowly. With tears in his eyes he said “Thank you. This is the nicest thing someone has done for us in a long, long time. Most people don’t notice us.”
I told him my daughter noticed him and said we should stop. He looked at her straight in the eye, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi. I’m Danny.”
And this is when I knew, without a doubt, that God was speaking.
My daughter, who never shakes anyone’s hand and never talks to people she doesn’t know, shook his hand and smiled shyly up at him.
As we were waiting in line, I asked him how long he’d lived in the Springs and where he was from. When he mentioned he was homeless, I told him about the new facilities at Springs Rescue Mission and that our church had helped fund it. I invited him to come to Pulpit Rock.
While Danny politely ordered two sandwiches, Cara had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her face. She held the heavy bag as he filled two cups at the soda machine.
I had never seen God as clearly as I did in that moment in my daughter’s shining eyes.
In the car after we said goodbye and left, we said a short prayer for Danny and Linda and asked God to take care of them. When I finished praying, Cara said excitedly, “Mom! When we bought those longfoot sandwiches, we just did the Most Important Thing!”
Every night when I’m putting the kids to bed, I ask them “What’s the most important thing?”
They say “To love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love other people.”
I’ve often wondered if they’re just repeating the words or if it’s sinking in.
Now I know.