Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/31/2019

David

The temperatures have been plummeting all week. Two nights ago, I met a homeless man on the corner of 1st and 14th who was out in the freezing rain with a ripped short and the remnants of a hospital gown trailing behind him. I must confess that, when I first saw him I hurried along so as not to be spotted. So much for compassion, huh?

Anyway, as I was willing back from the store I see him again. He asked me for money and I told him that I had none. Then I asked if he needed anything else. He seemed lost so I suggested I buy him a poncho. At this point I believe he stumbled and fell for the first time. He was much larger than me and quite dirty so (failing to be a bodhisattva one more) I couldn’t do much to help him right himself. After he used my leg to brace himself I reason to the store to get the poncho.

When I came back he was with an older gentleman who had called 911. The kind man said that the homeless guy was named David and that he had fallen three times in the five minutes of been away. Not thinking that this might be a bad idea I tried to put the poncho on David. The result was that he fell backward through some newspaper kiosks and into the bike lane.

At this point there was nothing much we could do for him except wait with him until the paramedics came. I still feel guilty for having been such an imperfect helper but there’s not much I can do about it now. I’ve been dedicating my merit to him but that’s about it.

How close are we to being David? David is someone’s son. David may even be someone’s father and husband. Someday soon we may be in his shoes but we live our lives as if we’re somehow immune to the same fortune. I cannot save anyone but, when I see the urge to avoid, to run, may I always turn toward that person reflecting on the fact that I would want to be shown just such concern and kindness.


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