It's New Year's Day today, the first day of a brand new year, as yet unwritten, so everything seems possible. For a big part we have the power to shape this year for ourselves the way we want it to be, and we can only go with the flow of those things outside of our control.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened to me on Christmas Day. My mum had come over to spend Christmas with me. A lovely time! On Christmas Day we travelled to the City to go to Christmas Mass, and we bumped into one of our homeless friends. I introduced mum and him to each other and we had a chat. He had a few bags around him that held all his possessions. In one of the bags he had a few chocolates, and he insisted on giving me two; one for me, one for mum. At first I did not want to accept, because I felt that since he had so few chocolates he should keep them to himself, but who am I to tell a grown man what he can and cannot give to someone else... I knew this man and I knew that he would give the shirt off his back and have nothing and he would still say he had everything he needed. Money and possessions mean nothing to him. One time a long time ago I tried to make him keep his two sleeping bags instead of giving one of them to me to give away to someone in need, and he pointed at the bags around him and said "I have my clothes, I have my sleeping bag, I don't need anything else. I have everything right here". Anyway, I accepted the chocolates he gave to me, and showed my appreciation, which put a smile on his face. He shook my hand and wished me a Merry Christmas.
In our times of greed, of focus on possession, and of "I want", the words "I want to give" are not heard often enough. This man has so little and still wants to give. Unknowingly he puts those who are more fortunate to shame... If he can give of his few possessions, why can't others with more give more? There is such a need out there...
Mum and I walked on to church, but while walking and all during the Christmas Mass I felt pretty miserable because he had given me two of his few chocolates while I had nothing to give to him. I decided to get him something to eat and a bottle of Coke after Mass (he loves his Coke!) in a convenience store because all other shops were closed. But after Mass I couldn't find him...
It really was on my mind that I had not given him anything on Christmas Day, but then things started to dawn on me due to the sweet words of others... They said that for this man, too, it had meant a lot to be able to give on Christmas Day, to be given time for a chat and to be introduced to my mum. I started to be really glad that I took the chocolates and that he did have the opportunity to give. I also started to be glad I had nothing to give to him, because for him that would have decreased the meaning of his giving. For homeless people too, Christmas can be a meaningful time, and if it is, it is really important that they can give expression to that like anyone else. They may not all have family or friends to spend Christmas with, and so bumping into someone they know, have a chat with and give some chocolates to may mean the world.
And so I have started the new year with an important lesson learnt: that for everybody, however few possessions they may have, it can be important to be able to give, and that receiving in an appropriate manner can mean so much to the giver.
Only a super short blogpost here, but we will be back with more soon! I would like to end by wishing everyone a Very Happy New Year. If you have any New Year's resolutions, I wish you the tenacity to stick to them. If you see a homeless person, please be kind. Simple eye contact, a smile or a friendly "g'day" go a very long way in making someone's day. You never know how something you say can make a huge difference and establish change for someone, give someone just that little push that is needed to turn his or her life around, if not immediately then perhaps down the track when they are ready. You can plant a seed and when it is ready to come to fruition, it will. You may or may not know when this happens, but happen it will.
All the very, very best for 2015, and if you are still on holidays, please enjoy!
Written by Bernie the Polite Girl for the Polite Team