My friend, Katelyn, has a direct line to the big Spirit in the Sky. I always thought she had some kind of mystical/intuitive/spiritual presence that you don’t feel in most people. Her house is adorned with Angels of all kinds and blessings hang on the walls of her home.
She told me this story recently. It was Friday evening around rush hour and she had decided at the last minute to go shopping for bindis at this place in L.A. just off of Venice Boulevard, a main drag teeming with cars at most hours and even moreso at rush hour.
She hopped in her little blue metallic miata with the license plate that essential reads: Angels Work. When she closed the car door, she heard all kinds of cars beeping and honking and some random yelling…she got out of her car to see what the commotion was about when she saw him: a man, clearly homeless, sprawled in the middle of the intersection of Venice and Culver, trying to pull his body across the intersection. Needless to say, he had not pushed the walk button–he couldn’t….he wasn’t able to walk.
I’m not sure what others would do in this situation, but Katelyn rushed over to the intersection and waited for the walk sign. She approached this dirty and disheveled man with the compassion of a Buddah: “Let me help you get across the street.” The man replied, “Someone stole my wheelchair. I can’t get around without it.” Somehow she was able to help him scoot across the street (all 5’2″ and 120lbs of her). He sat in a heap on the sidewalk. She asked, “Can I get you some water?” He said, “Yes, please.” She went over to the fast food joint up the block and asked for a water. Apparently, they could not give it to her so she paid for a cup of tap water and brought it to the man. After gulping it down she asked, “Can I help you get where you are going?” He replied, “Can you help me get to the bus stop?”
At this point, it was starting to get late. And the two blocks to the bus stop would take an hour to help him get to. So she brought around her car and helped him get in. He said, “I’m a good person. I won’t hurt you.” She said, “I believe you.” And he started to cry. He had just been released from the nearby hospital with no place to go and no wheelchair. They gave him $10, a dose of his meds and discharged him. He wasn’t even sure where or when his chair was lost/stolen. He said, “I had finally gotten my first electric wheelchair. I can’t believe it’s gone already.”
Katelyn looked at him and smiled. She said, “My Nana just passed and we have 2 wheelchairs that we were planning to give away. If I can get one for you, will you take it?” He said, “Sure.” She said, “How can I reach you?” He said, “I don’t have a phone but you can call my Dad in Florida.” She took his name and number and promised to call his father. Some of the people waiting for the bus helped the man get on.
I’m not sure how this story will end…Katelyn is waiting to hear back from the man’s father. But when she does speak with him, she is planning on giving him the numbers for the mental health resources in L.A. along with arranging to get the wheelchair to his son.
What began as a “unusual spur-of-the-moment-trip” to the store turned into a several day affair. But for some reason, she was at the right place at the right time with an open, compassionate heart, to help this man. I’m ashamed to say that I’m not sure I would have done any of what she did to help this fellow human being.
But the story really gives me pause. Like most people, I’m not really connected to a community of people. It’s each man for himself out there. That has got to change. I’m inspired by my friend to work on cultivating a compassionate and giving heart. I read a book recently that said: do not ignore your desire to express gratitude to another person. This happens to me quite a lot (I’m very shy…blah blah blah) where I would like to give something to someone, even a compliment, but I chicken out.
I remembered this when I was at the grocery store yesterday. A colleague at work is trying to work on eating better and has started experimenting with squash lately. She’s never tried a kabocha squash. I thought of her when I was at the store and the kabochas were just staring me down. So I bought her one and left it in her chair this morning. I know that’s silly and nowhere near what my friend has done/does daily but it’s a start.
As my wise Yogi Tea told me recently, “You are a spiritual being having a human experience.”
One day at a time.