Unitarian Universalist minister Victoria Weinstein says she keeps a stash of dollar bills in the car so that she can greet whoever approaches, give them a few bucks and wish them well. “In exchange for this paltry contribution,” she says, “I get bit of news from the street, a friendly hello, and a genuinely warm smile.”
She goes on, “I decided some years ago that when anyone asks me a question, it is my obligation to give them my full attention and to respond honestly…. This … started as an experiment and became [a] delightful spiritual discipline…. I stop for everyone. I answer everyone honestly. If they ask me [for] spare change … almost all of the time, I give it to them.”
She tells of a time she gave money to a panhandler who responded by saying, “Thank you for looking at me.”
Vicki was “outraged on his behalf…. ‘Don’t ever thank someone for looking at you! If people are so rude that they won’t even look at you, then there’s something wrong with them, not you!’”
The man burst out laughing and Vicki did, too. They ended up having lunch and talking for the afternoon.
Together they realized that “it is exhausting and depressing and lonely to be on the street asking for money, and that it is also exhausting, depressing, and lonely to be the one who walks by averting her eyes, feeling guilty…. We figured out that he drinks too much because he’s lonely and scared—and we figured out that I talk to people on the street for the same reasons.”
I was so happy to read Vicki’s story, for I, too have kept a stash of bills in my purse. I, too, have learned to give to people when they ask, and I, too, have found it a profound spiritual practice…….
I do this because I am guided by the words of Jesus….who said,( I am paraphrasing here) when you care for the poor, you are doing it to me, likewise, when you do not care for the poor, you are not caring for me!
I do this because in the christian testament of hebrews it says: paraphrasing again,
love one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to be kind and generous to strangers, you never know, it might be an angel!
I do this because of our UU principles. The first two speak to this;
The inherent worth and dignity of every person
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
I do this because Eric and I want our children to see Unitarian Universalism is a faith and religion of ACTION. I do it, because I believe we are all a children of the divine and that makes you my brother, you, my sister.
so I give;
With out judgment.
I give with
love and compassion
trust and a smile
a touch and a gentle word
I give with eye contact if they will let me.
because. Who does not want the chance to look into the face of the divine? Or as John Lennon puts it, better recognize your brother, everyone you meet…