The Homeless Chronicles: "Chloe, Cat Money & God"
We are all called to give and give freely.
Question is: Do we?
Let’s talk about the homeless or travelers or those less fortunate, for a moment. There have been many times in my life that we as a family, have been put into positions, to give. Our heart has always been for people in need; whether monetary or otherwise. While many may laugh or scoff at us for doing so, we know in our hearts, we are doing the right thing. Many think, we have been taken advantage of, and though at times, that may have been the case. Our stance however, has always been the same, it’s our job to give, we are called to give and it is between them and God what they do with it.
Here’s one of our stories:
I got a call from Chloe, our oldest daughter, who was, at the time, attending a faith-based university. She was on her way to work a volunteer gig, at a local charity event, when I received a call from her. She says, "Mom-you're either gonna be really mad at me or really happy about what I am about to tell you."
My heart stops for a second, bracing myself for the news that is about to come. What mom wants to hear those words? Even though, I know how everyday our lives are crazy, wacky and full of the unexpected. Even though, I know how “not normal” is our “normal.”
She begins to tell me she stopped at Chick-Fil-A to get something to eat and sees 2 travelers, with all their belongings, sitting outside of the restaurant, on the ground, with their dog. They weren't begging, they had no signs. She smiles at them, and enters the restaurant. She is now observing them, while standing in line. She notices no one stops, asks or helps them. No one even gives them eye contact or any acknowledgment at all. It’s as if they’re invisible. She notices around, all the students, proudly wearing their college faith-based shirts yet not acting, not seeing, not doing anything. She begins to get upset and agitated, wondering if it is because the travelers have tattoos and piercings. Is it because of how their dressed or the assumptions made about them? Is it because they have a Pitbull with them? She thinks, how do these people share her faith, but remain doing nothing?
She gets upset and angry all at the same time. She continues to notice them being ignored. She orders, gets her food and approaches them. She plops herself right down beside them and starts petting their dog. She asks if she can buy their lunch. They politely decline, saying they had money to eat on, but were trying to get to Pennsylvania for a job one of them had just gotten there. Conversation ensues, conversation about the dog, where they are from, where they are going.
After a bit of conversing has taken place, she poses a question:
"Do you believe in Jesus?"
Chloe begins to share her beliefs and the conversation flows. No one is upset. It is not awkward. This is no ploy. This is not a religious, in your face, offensive act and her motive is only to pray with these travelers, nothing else. Her goal: only for them to know they mattered, that they were loved, that God sees them, cares for them and to pray for protection on their journey.
One of the gentleman says, "Oh, my grandma used to tell me about Him. She used to take me to Sunday school when I was a little boy." Chloe then says, "Well, I just want you to know that He sees you, and cares about you very much. She then says, "Can I pray for you?" Both gentlemen agree. She proceeds to pray over them and at this point, all eyes in the restaurant are on them, peering thru the windows. She doesn’t care. She prays anyway.
She then wishes them well and proceeds to her car. She gets in her car and hears, "You're not finished." She knows it’s God. She can’t leave. In her mind though she begins to rationalize with this voice, "But I don’t have anything in my car to give." She looks frantically around her car, front and back; nothing. “See?”,she mumbles. It was then she heard, "cat money."
(Side note: She had just sold her new Chaco hiking shoes that no longer fit her, to her sister and her sister had given her "cat-sitting money" she had earned, from a neighbor, as payment. Chloe had intentions of taking the $80 to buy boots and things for college from the bartering she and her sister did.)
Chloe never carries cash and never even thought about money, until she heard "cat money." She thinks, "Ok, I don't NEED boots. These people NEED to get to Pittsburgh on the train." While seated in her car, she then proceeds to divide the $80 equally. She thinks how crazy it’s going to look to re-approach these guys since she just prayed over them. She gets out of her car and goes back anyways. She approaches them and hands them each $40 that was balled up in each of her fists. She says, "I want you to have this." Shocked and astounded, they look at her baffled. One of the guys begins to weep. They both start weeping, as it is then, one of them looks at her and responds:
"......so this is YOUR JESUS."
They embrace once more with well wishes and tears and by this point, everyone is crying. Chloe leaves and that’s when I get the call that begins, “"Mom-you're either gonna be really mad at me or really happy about what I am about to tell you."
Whatever you believe and whomever or whatever you believe in, know that LOVE always wins. Giving is our greatest joy. Connecting with people, our greatest responsibility. Taking time, a precious commodity. Know that we are all only temporary stewards of the things we have. Why hoard, when we can impact and show people love? Whether it be with time or money, a hug, a kind word, a burger or a prayer.
Those are the proud moments as a parent that I will hold dear. Those are the moments that bring me the most joy. It’s when those moments and acts of pure unselfish, raw, brave, fearless LOVE are put into action. A displayed love, that in the moment, time stands still and nothing else matters.
One may think, the lives of those travelers were affected the most that day, I beg to differ. I would argue, it would be the day my daughter heard and acted in obedience to her calling; a calling to give; a calling to act, to move, to do; an act of selfless pure love. We are called to give and give freely, and on that day, that’s just what she did.