A kid about 19 or 20 comes up to me as I’m leaving the grocery store. I’m pushing a cart with two bags of groceries and an empty cardboard shipping box. He stands in front of me as I reach my car. Skinny, torn tank top, tattooed, gauges in each ear, he’s sweating in the evening heat.
He’s not a poster child for clean-cut charity. He could easily be hitting me up so he can buy booze, drugs, bad-for-you burgers. He steps back, squats down. It’s a calculated move. He’s done this before. Squatting makes it less likely he’ll grab my purse. And the grocery cart is now between us.
I reach for my wallet. My credit cards are separate, and I don’t have a lot of cash.. Even if he took it all, he couldn’t fill up a truck’s empty gas tank. I hand him a dollar. He takes it. Closer now, he repeats, “I’m not lying.” There is something heartbreaking about this. I know about unemployment, about being discounted, about not knowing where the gas money is coming from.
I smile at him. “Bless you” I say and load my groceries into the trunk.
Each of us is capable of giving someone a blessing. No requirement to be ordained, no need to be minister, shaman or even holy. A blessing is a gift that costs nothing to give.
I’ve had the giving-a-stranger-money discussion often with friends. In my mind, all I need to have or know is my intention to help. It is not my business to judge, or tell the giver how the money should be used. After I give, it belongs to the receiver.
In addition to blessing him, I received a blessing of sharing. Not a bad way to end the working day.
—Quinn McDonald believes in paying it forward. And backward and sideways. Times are tough. We all need a blessing.