I also want to mention a man I saw begging at a stoplight. This, of course, is a common sight, but everything about him was uncommon, and in a very good, inspiring way. If Jimi Hendrix were still alive, he might well look like this — graceful in movement, deeply intelligent, wise in his weathered face and eyes, dusty in countenance, his presence that of an angel, his pain too great and too beautiful to hide.
This particular light is situated atop a gentle slope at a convenient bend, where the road turning left is two lanes wide. In our town, most beggars at intersections stand numbly while holding their cardboard signs, which, if I might paraphrase, say, “Homeless, anything helps, God bless.”
When I arrived, the light was red, and there were already several cars ahead of me in both lanes. This light takes awhile to change, and the beggar was making use of the time. He was engaged in a friendly chat with one passenger, who handed him some money. After thanking him respectfully, he glanced at the other cars, and, making eye contact with someone else, motioned for them to lower the window, which that person did. After another brief chat, the beggar achieved the same positive result. All the while, he held his head high. He was also amused by himself, as if he were pleasantly in awe of the life and circumstances that had brought him here.
Still standing in the roadway, wise and humble and proud, the beggar was about to try again when the light changed. Sign to his chest, he turned around and took his place on the sidewalk. It was the first time I’d seen him. I might never see him again. But seeing him was a blessing.