It's that time of year when the red-kettled bell ringers of the Salvation Army elbow out the StreetWise salesfolk in front of the local grocery stores.
But yesterday in front of one of the local grocery stores there was another person. She didn't work for StreetWise, and she didn't ring a bell for the Salvation Army. She was just sitting silently against one of the pillars outside the store with a found empty Starbucks iced coffee cup in her hand, begging money.
And as I came closer from where I had parked the car I saw another woman. That second woman went past the red-kettled bell ringer and past the StreetWise salesperson, went right up to the woman at the pillar with the cup, and bent down. She touched the woman seated there. She spoke with her, stroked her hair, heard her voice. I saw the woman with the cup reach up and touch the other woman's hand. I didn't see how it ended, because I kept walking into the store. Maybe she put something in her cup, and maybe she didn't. Doesn't matter that much, really.
A few nights ago I resolved not to withhold spiritual or material aid, but to give them freely where needed, and I was ashamed to realize that it would have never occurred to me to do what that woman had done.
But it will now.
It will now.