The Gift

Trudging her way down the sidewalk, the snow crunched loudly beneath Laura’s feet. It wasn’t quite loud enough to drown out the rumbling of her stomach though. 

Laura knew she should turn around and go back to the shelter, if only for the night. There’d be food there, after all, and she’d have a warm place to sleep. Hesitating for the umpteenth time, she started to turn back, but then she thought again about the way the two shelter workers looked at her. They gave her the creeps. No, she couldn’t turn back. The men at the shelter brought back too many painful memories. She’d see about getting some food, then maybe she could find a warm grate to curl up by. 

Yes, first things first, she decided, seeing a fast food sign up ahead. Digging around in her rucksack, she found the cardboard sign she’d used the last time. The one that asked for spare change. Then positioning herself by the drive-through line, Laura decided she’d see what fate had in mind for her empty stomach that evening. 

Before long, she sensed a car had pulled to a stop nearby, and looking up, she saw a girl about her age approaching, fast food bag in hand. Graciously saying she’d bought too much food, the girl held the bag out to Laura, who accepted eagerly, expecting the girl to scurry off then, having done her good deed.

But surprisingly, the girl didn’t seem to be in a hurry. She introduced herself as Megan and asked Laura’s name in return. Then she stuck around, chatting easily. Almost as if Laura was a friend. Finally, when they’d run out of things to talk about, the girl made to leave, but first, she did something unexpected. She said how nice it was to have met Laura, calling her by name, then she reached out and gave Laura a quick hug. 

As the girl walked away, Laura wondered if she’d imagined the whole thing. After all, people avoided any real contact with those living on the streets. Eye contact was rare – it was like you were invisible – and physical contact was unthinkable.

Laura realized she felt different too. Somehow the cold wind seemed less biting. It was more than that though… Yes, something unusual had certainly transpired, but what was it? At last, with hot tears streaming down her face, she recognized what it was. 

For the first time, in as long as she could remember, Laura had felt normal again, if only for a few moments. Whoever Megan was, she’d given Laura a gift far more precious than a hot meal. She’d given Laura the gift of being seen.

And with that, Laura felt a flicker of excitement that she’d thought to be long dead. It was a very small flicker, but it was there, nonetheless. Because if she wasn’t invisible to someone like Megan, maybe… just maybe… there was hope for her yet. And maybe, she thought with the ghost of a smile, she might someday share that gift of hope with the other unseen who walked the streets beside her. 

Thank you for reading, Kendra

If you’d like to read the true story that inspired this post, you can find it here. And for more posts about God and life, you can find my blog page here. I can also be found on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

Featured image by Pexels

38 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. You offer an essential lesson, Kendra. Indeed, there is research using FMRI technology demonstrating how our brain functions when passing a homeless person on the street. The measurements at that moment are no different than when we look at a piece of furniture.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I didn’t know of that research, Dr. Stein. How heart-breaking! I know a lot of times, these encounters may be uncomfortable for us – we’re in a hurry, or don’t have anything to offer, but what you’ve shared makes it even worse. Wow, just wow!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know, Brenda – I felt like I’d been sucker-punched when I read that. 😢But I’m grateful to know about it, because it reiterates the need to extend kindness, even if it’s within our own little worlds!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your story reminds of one of my all-time favorite quotes from Leo Buscaglia: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love that, Erin! And it gets to the heart of what I was feeling. So often we try to “do” with programs and donations and such. And I support them, but we can’t forget the simple act of taking time for someone. Just to treat them as a fellow human being. Thank you for sharing the quote! If it’s not on our quote tree (I didn’t look🫣), it probably should be – it’s a real keeper! ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh goodness, that’s the sweetest, thing, Wynne! I was trying to get things across in a subtle (or maybe not so subtle – I’m not sure) way.
      Beyond the main point, which was the importance of seeing others, and connecting with them, I was hoping to bring awareness to other issues…. I think it’s easy to become jaded and assume an easy fix, when that’s not always the case. For instance, someone may not be in a shelter because they don’t like to follow rules. But… it could also be they’ve experienced some kind of trauma, that makes staying there difficult for them. I know it’s a weighty topic, and really, it all goes back to human kindness and empathy. Sorry for going off on a tangent, but thank you so much for the very kind words! ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Powerful writing Kendra. A very moving piece. I don’t which of your pieces today I like the most, both have such strong messages. “For the first time, in as long as she could remember, Laura had felt normal again, if only for a few moments. Whoever Megan was, she’d given Laura a gift far more precious than a hot meal. She’d given Laura the gift of being seen.” Felt like I was there. Thanks so much for sharing. Gives me a lot to think about!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Brian! I’ve been moved by the incident with Garrett. It’s easy for me to feel good about volunteering time and resources, all of which are done on my own terms. But being sensitive to someone in the moment – even when it’s not a convenient time – stopping to really see them… To acknowledge their value as a fellow human being… And recognizing it could make all the difference to them… These are things I’m trying to be more mindful of, and as we know, writing helps us to process. ☺️Thanks for coming along on the processing ride, and thanks again for your comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As I read you story about Garret … my nightmare is me not being really aware of the situation and me yelling out the window that we need to get going or he’s going to miss soccer practice or I’m going to be late for work. 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ I would like to think I’m a better father than that but I’ve been known to have my moments. Anyway Kendra, a wonderful example by your son and you and a great post! (You should be sure to tell him that he’s inspiring others.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What I’m “hearing” is that you understand my concern about not being sensitive to the moment. 😆Which actually makes me feel better! It’s tough when we’re juggling a million things, but I’m *trying* to be better at it. And thank you again, Brian. I truly appreciate the kind words and will let Garrett know! 🥰

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, I could see me putting my foot firmly in mouth and me ruining a wonderful act by one of my kids. I know it, because I’ve done stupid things like that. Now you Kendra … I can tell that you care and are a kind person and are not a crazy lunatic like me. Ha, ha. Nah, we all have these concerns, I think it’s part of being a parent and like you say juggling so many things.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Now I’m laughing! Kind and caring? I try. As to the rest? Totally depends on the day. 😀 But I love your comments, Brian, and all of the transparency!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful and moving stories both here and on your personal blog about your son and his caring encounter. A great reminder that we all want to be seen as nothing less than human and worthy of kindness.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Beautifully said, Deb! While the circumstances may be different for each of us, we’re all human beings and we all have value. And “worthy of kindness” – LOVE that. Thank you! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Brenda! I never could seem to get it “just right,” but finally had to let it go, and hope that the post resonated. That being said, I really appreciate your kind comments! 🤍

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What a wonderful comment, Julia! I really needed reminding myself, and hoped you all wouldn’t mind coming along for the ride. But I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and truly appreciate your thoughtful remarks! 🤍

      Liked by 1 person

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