We spent last week in San Francisco, a place where I truly leave a piece of my heart every time I leave. In the past year our family has faced addiction, rehab and recovery, relapse, recovery, the death of a childhood friend from addiction and the harsh reality of a life unlived. This year we began with a new light, a new life has entered our world, bringing back a spark of JOY and WONDER. There is an intensity to the JOY that perhaps would not have been as sorrow has opened our souls to hold more, reshaping our perspective of gratitude. A blessing is a blessing doubled when you have been visited by the dark night of the soul.
San Francisco has a huge homeless population because it is such a temperate climate. Walking into the grocery store I see a young man in his thirties, if that, begging for change. When we return an hour later he is swaying, eyes closed with an empty six pack next to him. He is unaware of my observation, being a nurse I am always assessing people’s health status, it’s just a part of my being. He is young, well nourished, smooth skinned individual who is definitely in need of a bath. We place our groceries in the car and I grab a bottle of water and a few pieces of fruit. I approach the young man, I place my offerings next to his disarray of personal items softly speaking to him, “You might be thirsty or hungry later, it’s not much, but it might make you feel better.” It’s not much; it’s just a small gesture, one I give in love and compassion because I know in my heart he belongs to someone. Someone brought him into this world and held him and loved him and now he sways to the rhythm of his alcohol haze. He is someone’s child, brother, friend and he is a Child of God no matter his choices. I know that his Guardian Angel is standing beside him forever loving him and offering him encouragement. I do not profess to know what his journey is about, but I do know this,- someone is missing his once bright smile, the sparkle in his eye and the sound of his laughter. Somewhere there is a mother with a broken heart, and so I send this young man love, a mother’s love, because it is a small gesture that I hope he feels and someday heals from the sadness that sent him here. And I know that but for the Grace of God that could have been my own broken heart.