Homelessness, blessedness


Climbing the umpteenth set of steps to get off Parliament Station yesterday morning, the few commuters and I came upon a set of sleeping bags, luggage and other items more suited inside a home, all spread across the landing of the steps just before the last flight of steps towards Lonsdale Street. A man and a woman each in separate sleeping bags were sleeping. Near the man’s head was a hand written cardboard sign saying they were a homeless family, the wife was pregnant and they needed help. Next to that sign was a large cup with a few coins inside. The weather had turned cool again and I had a woollen jumper under my suit jacket and I had a woollen beanie on. My large backpack with the usual gym gear, lunch and brekky for contents, shielded my back and added protection from the cold. I imagined the family must have been very tired to sleep on that concrete floor that was a staircase landing, over a cold night. It was about 6am, daylight had broken through and I could see the man’s face clearly. I had walked past the cardboard sign but returned to look into the cup, and checked that the man was still asleep. I saw him stirring a bit. I reached into my pocket and emptied out the coins – not more than a couple of dollars – to put them into the cup. I thought of leaving my business card with him but didn’t think that would do any good. I wanted to start a conversation with him, ask how his wife was doing and how else I may help. I didn’t. He was asleep. I had my routines to complete.

This morning as I approached that flight of steps I wanted to see if I could take a picture of that cardboard sign. I reached into the inside pocket of my suit jacket and realised then I had forgotten my phone. It must have been left on the bench top this morning. That man and his family weren’t there anyway.

Into the last 10 minutes of the cross trainer routine, sweating buckets and feeling spent – having already felt a bit under the weather when I woke up this morning – someone walked into the cardio area of the gym and lit up the room. Tress walked in, looked brighter than everyone and anyone else, and smiled at me a she left my phone, wrapped in a petite Myer’s bag, on the drinks holder of the cross trainer. She mouthed she was going to work now and in that instant, I felt like the luckiest man alive but also thought about that man in the sleeping bag on the steps of Parliament Station. At least he had his wife by his side. I have mine to bless me constantly, on top of all the other abundance I have been blessed with.
These past couple of weeks have made me wonder about the uncertainty of my world now. My employer has just been taken over by a competitor and the already fractured relationship between the shareholders and my employer’s board and senior management would now be compounded by the uncertainty emanating from the sale. While the uncertainty can be a source of stress, the idea that I have a promise that my needs will be provided, is a constant comfort. Even better however is simply knowing I will almost always have my wife with me.

Later in the morning, when the team went out for coffee, we walked past another homeless person. I have seen this lady numerous times. She was sitting on her mat/sleeping bag. It was still a cool morning. At 65 Degrees on Exhibition Street, other than my normal coffee, I also ordered a hot chocolate. Kim, the lady who usually serves me, was surprised by this. I just smiled at her. That homeless lady looked pleased (and surprised) to be given a hot chocolate but little did she know, I was even more pleased. Indeed, I think it is more blessed to give than to receive.

It’s been a wonderful day, for me. I hope the days get better for that homeless family and the homeless lady.

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