Hanging on the edge of the season isn’t something we all do but I believe it is what the homeless do this time of year. I’ve seen them standing on Market and Main, near the courthouse and other places all around this ‘great nation’ of ours. To be true it is a sad sight but like many others for years I never gave their situation a thought, busy with holiday shopping and thoughts of dinner(s) to cook I rushed on past them as if they were a blur in my limited side vision, barely noticed but not totally unnoticed they registered without registering. A few times I was mindful enough to think how sad it must be for them but mostly they remained a blur. I think most of us are like this because to notice, to really notice, to really register in our hearts and minds would embarrass us, not so much for them but for ourselves for being so blessed, so fortunate.
One afternoon around dusk in 2002 I was quickly rushing towards the square for a concert. The Cincinnati (Classy Classical) Pops Orchestra gave concerts every year in the square downtown and I loved to sit in one of the wooden chairs the city unfolded and close my eyes and listen. The concert was about to begin. I was rushing. I did not notice her coming towards me until she was upon me. Startled I took a step backwards. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a cookie that had lost its crisp edge and handed it to me. Her sharing attempt at friendship. I extended my hand and took the cookie and thanked her. We walked in silence for a few steps and then she was off in another direction. I held the cookie in my hand not sure if I should toss it over the railing into the river or pocket it for later. I pocketed it. The locals called her Crazy Mary and she wasn’t actually homeless but she did wonder the streets daily. I saw her every morning as she passed by my patio and I’d taken to saying ‘good morning’ to her but she’d never stopped or slowed her steps to respond. She’d never turned her head in my direction. So her offering of the cookie and then the few steps she’d taken with me came as a complete surprise.
I found no wooden chairs. They’d all been taken. I removed my light jacket placed it on the grassy area nearest the fountain and sat on it. Later that evening I removed a broken cookie from my jacket’s pocket. And that is when it hit me. Her offering was her attempt at saying ‘thank you’ for noticing me, for paying attention, for being friendly.
. . . hanging on the edge of the season could possible be what is left to the homeless. Like Crazy Mary, they are not involved in the season of giving they only see others involvement . . . around the edges.
(may we all take the time during this time of giving to notice others who are living on the edges of what we call ‘our life’ and if only a smile, if only a hot cup of coffee, extend yourself and give)