Whenever we travel into the city, we encounter the homeless, the poor. What can we do to help? Pope Francis keeps trying to wake us up, encouraging us to shake off indifference and selfishness. It always breaks my heart the way we walk past the homeless, often along the bustling city streets. I know we should not give them money. We have given food before, at times many food items already piled by their side. Today we took a group of girls to Chicago, including a sweet friend from Germany. As we rode the train into the city, my dear friend, Julie was passing out Subway gift cards to the girls. I thought it was such a sweet gesture. Little did I know! As we reached the Magnificent Mile where the city was teeming with life, people by the tens of thousands, shops and restaurants, people of all kinds chatting, shopping bags on arms, happiness on this lovely sunny day….my friend’s daughter looked at her mom, to a nod of affirmation. I could hardly believe what I saw next as her daughter walked towards a homeless young man sitting on the first corner we approached. She greeted him. As he looked up, she gave him the gift card and a prayer card. I had never seen this before. I could hardly keep from crying for the beauty of it! That’s why Julie gave the girls all those gift cards!!! Of all the trips to the city I have ever taken, this is the most joyful thing we have ever done. The photo below was Bernadette giving her gift card away. By far, the best of the day was when Julie and I slipped into a Chic-Fil-A to buy a few more cards to give out while the girls were sightseeing. As we came out the door of the restaurant there was a man feeding the pigeons. Julie approached him and the light of joy on his face was beyond description, “Oh WOW! Thank you!!!” And he fairly flew, almost skipping as he beelined for the restaurant door! Such incredible happiness. At the same time mixed with such a deep sadness to think that a person could be so hungry while being virtually surrounded by opulence and fragrant breezes of delectable food coming from kitchens all along the street. I don’t think Julie and I will ever forget how much happiness such a little thing could bring to someone. No matter how great any difficulty we face, having food, a home, family, parents and relatives who truly love and care about us, really are great blessings that we should not just take for granted. Are we even grateful for all these blessings? Or would we cast them aside in exchange for living a life of “self” satisfaction? I am riding the train home thinking of all the blessings we have, instead of getting stuck in any suffering. Today was just one more time we experienced the mystery of doing for others; we can feel deeply it is they who give us so much more. ❤️ Thank you, Zania, Jeff, and the other beautiful eyes that looked up at us today. It was a very small bit of time, but the encounter was real. There we met Christ suffering. With one of the men we greeted today, I am convinced I was looking into the eyes of Christ. I wish there were no such thing as homelessness, or hunger, or war. But today, as insignificant as these little offerings were, I know all our hearts were touched; with joy, with really seeing each other, an exchange of hearts that interrupted all too briefly, the pain of being forgotten or uncared for. Giving joy to others, thinking about others instead of being trapped in “self”, is the way to ease our own pain. Funny how that works isn’t it? When we are in pain, or suffering, it is in easing the pain of the other that we conquer the madness that serving “self” drives us into. I get so tired of the siren song of our modern culture, falsely screaming that we will only be happy insisting on selfishness or self gratification. That siren song is a lie, the dead-end path for those who choose it. No, real happiness will only come in dying to self and putting others first. That is the only way to get our lives back on the path of true peace and real joy. We need courage to live contrary to the worldly mantra. 💝 I am especially grateful to have a dear friend who is such a great example of putting others before herself.