Did you make a difference to someone today ?
zen master Ryokan was walking on the beach. A storm had just blown over. Hundreds of starfish had been washed up by the waves; they were beginning to die in the sharp sunlight. Ryokan picked up the starfish one by one and threw them back into the sea.
A fisherman who had been observing Ryokan came up to him. “Why do you do this? Every time there’s a storm, this happens. You can’t save them all, so what difference does your attempt make?”
“It will make a difference – to this one,” replied Ryokan, as he flung yet another starfish into the water.
This weekend I spend most of my time at the beach or by the pool. I don’t think I spent any money other than putting gas in the car, yet I had a spectacular weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday I sat in the sand and watched the sun rise over the ocean. Then I did some yoga poses on the beach with my toes touching the water.
I told you I am a simple gal and it’s life’s little pleasures that bring inner joy to my soul.
But, sometimes I get a reality check…
There is a homeless lady that “lives” about a mile from my apartment. Each day I see her, she is pale with blonde hair and thin. She appears to be in her 50’s. In the past year I have seen her almost everyday. Never do I see her talking or smiling. She always has a cigarette pack in her hands, yet, come to think of it I have never seen her smoking.
She carries her things in a shopping buggy, and generally she avoids the hot Florida sun by standing beneath a tree.
Now, I don’t know her story, however I do know she is in my thoughts a lot. When I don’t see her under the tree, I wonder if she is okay. So this weekend while I was on a cleaning freenzy, I packed up some things that I no longer need and that I thought she might could use. All the while as I packed the things.. I wondered how I could take them too her without being offensive. But, my little inner “Dolly” said be still. So I continued to gather.
I carried the bag to the car and as I drove down the street to the familiar tree where the homeless lady “lives” I did not play music, I did not sing. Instead I thought about the homeless lady. As she came into view I parked my car in the parking lot across the road from the tree. I walked up to her and smiled as I handed her the bag of things I had gathered. She smiled back to me and told her if she could use the things she was more than welcome to them. She started to open the cigarette box in her hand. I don’t recall the brand, all I can remember is my eyes being opened as I saw the cigarette box for what it really was.
Inside there were some cards, a few dollar bills, and some loose change. She reached for one of the dollars and put it in my hand. Now, I could have nearly fainted. The box serves as her purse, since it is covered in a clear wrap it protects her things. I took the dollar in my hand and smiled. My instinct told me she did not have enough money to give me the dollar, and yet she was thankful enough to give me what she could.
I took the dollar home and went to my closet and got a change purse that I had gotten free with a make-up purchase a few years back. It is small yet covered to protect the things in it. I put the dollar inside and yesterday evening I took the purse to the lady. I reached the purse to her and she reached out her hand and smiled, then took the purse and put it on her chest. She closed her eyes and she looked like an angel.
Fact is, I don’t know her story. We never really talked, we just communicated with our hands and our hearts. But what I do know is—I am sure thankful for the lesson I learned from her. How many times do people pass a homeless person or a poor person and say.. oh well they can’t afford “_______fill in blank_____” but they can sure buy those cigarettes.”
Maybe, I have thought that too on occasion….. and it was time to learn my lesson. The lady so gracefully taught me not to judge others by their pocketbook!
I am certainly thankful for the lesson that I learned and I will definitely be more careful in how I think and especially what I say. OUR WORDS HAVE POWER!
Love and Light