When we lived in DC I volunteered weekly at a homeless shelter. My heart was helped exponentially more than anything I ever could have offered during my time there.
I wrote this song, Spare A Smile, from the stories and love and I experienced with The Lamb Center guests.
One afternoon I was driving through the city and saw a man standing on the corner with his cardboard sign. He wasn’t asking for money. His sign simply read: ‘CAN YOU SPARE A SMILE’.
The light turned green. I smiled quickly as I drove on. But the image of this man humbly holding this sign with his gaze towards the ground is forever planted in my heart. He wasn’t asking for money. He was asking for his most basic need - to be acknowledged as a human being - to be seen, perhaps even enjoyed, loved.
How many of us too long for this more than anything else, yet lack the courage to ask for it, to express this deep longing we feel?
It is so easy to get used to seeing people who live on the street. We walk by them as casually as we walk by a park bench or a street light... but these are people with dreams and hearts, who laugh and cry and feel things just like we do.
I am learning how small the differences are between us. And many of the things that make us different are things we have little control over. Understanding this opens the gate for compassion. It is all grace.
I think about how my family provided for us when my first husband was killed. If we didn’t have a loving family willing to help us, we could have ended up on the street too. I was a widow, a new mom, without a job. Our family took us in, gave us a roof over our heads and food for our tummies. They provided a loving place for our hearts to heal and learn to feel the floor beneath us again. For this I will forever be grateful.
I want to live with both a deep gratefulness for all I have and also have eyes to notice others less fortunate, not as interruptions along the road but as people, as humans. I want to look them in the eye and smile. To show them that they matter. Because they do. Because we all matter.
Can you spare a smile?