The other day, I was walking behind this homeless man after getting a few things from the grocery store.
He’s most likely in his mid-thirties. He seemed normal and healthy and in no way inadequate though his clothes looked old and worn out. He often carries a plastic bag with what looked like the few essential items he possessed.
I often see him loitering about the vicinity where I lived. I wonder why he is homeless and if he had a family. I’m sure he has a life story to tell like everyone else.
There were a few occasions I saw him sitting in the playground nearby writing in a notebook. And he just kept on writing and writing.
Otherwise, he can be seen standing outside a 24-hour convenience store where he would place a plastic container for anyone who is willing to spare him some loose change. He seemed to have a kind of dignity and confidence in him that I could not explain, unlike most homeless persons I have met. I am sure he knew who his regular supporters were. After all, this is a very small suburb. And most long-time residents here respect and accept him for who he is.
Apart from that, he is self-sufficient and content to live his life this way. Once, we happened to be both queueing to buy our food from a food truck. A four-wheel drive drove pass and stopped in front of us. A middle-aged woman winds down her the car window and handed the homeless man a bag of Chinese takeaway food. To my surprise, he told her in fluent Cantonese “No need, I have food today.” But the woman was persistent and said twice, “Take it, I bought it for you.” And again he told her no. The lady then drove away bewildered by the rejection from this homeless man.
Here is a person who I guess had not eaten a decent meal in at least a few years and I cannot help to think how often we are guilty of overindulgent when it comes to food.
There were days we too may feel just like this homeless man – unloved, lonely and disconnected. The only difference is that we have a place we can go to, which we call home.
My prayer for everyone is may we never end up like this homeless man. Life has its ups and downs and so often life seemed so unfair and our suffering unbearable. But in those times may we be grateful to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. And most of all to have our family or someone by our side, to love and to be loved.