I was in one of my usual hurried days, when I took a right turn up the hill to the Target in Birmingham. It was drizzling rain and the grass she sat on seemed almost too green to be real.
She crossed herself with the sign of the cross and then took a bite of a sandwich. She was sitting where everyone exits onto the highway and I know she will hold a sign stating her need for money. I am more and more aware of the homeless and needy who sit by the roadside. My husband says I need a sign on the back of my car that says I Stop For Beggars. He knows why.
Three years ago I had a dream, I was dying and all of my family gathered around me in a hospital room, standing over me talking. I felt my soul rise from my body that was still lying in the bed and I was light as a feather, floating around the room. I could see my family around my body and I could hear their voices. The door opened and I floated out and down a long white and bright hallway. Along the sides of the walls here and there were people that I recognized but did not know, they stood there and acknowledge me as I passed. Then I realized that they were the ones I had seen at the stop signs, or along the streets, the poor, the homeless and needy. Had I helped them? or had I walked by them. Were they the people that the Bible says I must clothe, feed and care for? and Did I? Then I woke up. Yes it was much like a Charles Dickens story with an Aha! moment.
Now you also know why I stop for Beggars. If Jesus stops for beggars, I should too. For those who feel they want to help but do not want to give cash handouts, here are a few ideas that I use. I buy gift cards to McDonald’s; and grocery cards and I keep them in my car. I do not hesitate to give cash, but some people feel uncomfortable doing that. I decided to give freely, and without judgement, for it is the person I care to help and God is our ultimate judge.
Back to the young mother on the side of the road. Yes, she held a sign needing help to feed her children. “I’m just desperate.” she said to me. “I don’t want to be out here.” She could have been my daughter. She could have been one of the people along the hallway I passed in my dream. Yes, I stop for a beggar, they are people, and they are my neighbor.