This may seem like a regular box of takeout to you, but there's a story behind this. It's going to take a minute to get to, but trust me.
A couple of months ago I decided I wanted to start reading the bible. I'm not religious in any way. I was baptized Catholic, went to the Kingdom Hall with my mom when I was younger but never really had any association with a particular religion. I just decided it was something that I should do.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to start taking notes when it comes to what I've read. I read chapter by chapter. I take notes on who's in the chapter, words I've looked up in the dictionary, things I find interesting in the passage, and a short 2-4 sentence summary of what I've just read. I'm reading the New King James version and as far as I know, there aren't really any study guides to aid in doing so, but I also haven't googled any because honestly I'm lazy and I'm not too preoccupied about it. I do it my own way, the same way I do Christianity. On my own terms. I believe in God. I have my own personal relationship with him and I think that's what really matters. Not the fact that I don't go to church or say "For Christ's sake" far too many times than I'd like to admit.
I don't go to church, although about three years ago, I went almost every week for the better part of three to four months. I also go when I'm in Mexico because my grandparents literally live right next door to the church. By that I mean, it's less than 100 feet from my grandparent's front door to the front door of the church. It's a small town, there's bell ringing involved, and I'm a light sleeper. But I don't really pay attention because mass is in Spanish and I have no idea what they're saying.
Before I read the bible, I always pray. It's nothing overzealous but more straightforward and to the point. "I'll try not to be too cynical when reading tonight, because this is just a book, a book about your word. There are things that aren't relevent in todays world but there are things that are. I'll try to have an open heart and open mind while reading and I'll try to find ways to apply those things in life."
The other day I took a chicken breast out of the freezer to defrost so that I could make chicken stir fry for dinner after work. I didn't have a wok so I went to go buy a cheap one really quick.
On my way home, I saw a homeless man sitting on the corner of the main cross streets. Immediately I thought, "I wonder if he'd like a homecooked meal. Who knows when the last time he had one was." He was sitting there as if he were getting ready to hunker down for the night. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry so I immediately decided that I was going to cook the chicken for him.
It made me smile. Matter of fact, while I was cooking the chicken and vegetables, I couldn't help but smile. I kept thinking he would react in a positive manner. I found a to go box, packed the food in, grabbed a plastic fork, and some napkins and headed for the door.
Long Beach has a very high homeless population. I also know that people can act very hostile given the situation, but I kept hoping for the best.
I walked down the street to the corner where I saw him thinking about how I would approach him. What would I say? "I thought you'd like some food." Would that come out wrong? How about, "I made you a homecooked meal."? Would he say some thing sarcastic to that? "What if he's allergic to something in here?" Would he eat the vegetables? Was I overthinking this? "I think I'm overthinking this." Just walk up to him, hold out the food and say, "I made you some food. I hope you'll like it." Yes, that's it. "I made you some food. I hope you like it."
As I got closer to the corner I couldn't help but smile. Somebody that I wanted to help.
Expecting to see the man sitting there, maybe laying down, getting ready to sleep, I turned the corner to find that in reality, he had left. Both he and the meager possessions that he owned were gone. I looked around to see if he had simply moved. Maybe into the bushes where people might not be able to see him or cops bother him for sleeping on the sidewalk, but nothing. He was gone.
And just like that, my happiness faded away. Here was someone that I really wanted to help, and they were gone. I ended up taking the food home and tried to eat it myself but I just couldn't enjoy it and left it for my sister to eat when she got off work.
There are dozens of people asking for help a day on the Metro while I make my way to school, and truthfully, I usually ignore them. I don't know what possessed me to think about helping him and actually following through to some extent, but I'd like to think it was God working through me in a way that would work for me. Not in some grandiose manner, but in a way that I could empathize with. Although I find things questionable while reading the bible, I think it's actually presented a shift in the way I'm seeing things. Or maybe it's just me growing older, and therefore hopefully wiser, but who knows?