333: Homeless, But Not Heartless

Entry Number:   333

Age Group:             Middle                                            Word Count – 550

Title:                       Homeless, But Not Heartless


I walk down the sidewalk.  I see sad, pleading eyes looking up at me in desperation hidden with a hopeful smile.  This poor, old man I see before me, leaning against a fence, has only his right arm.  He has no other limbs.  He has nothing except his shirt and pants and a little tin bowl.  I want to help him.  I don’t care if he’s not a real beggar.  He needs money.  He needs help.  And he needs a smile.

I drop ten RMB into his little tin bowl and smile.  He thanks me.  I see the sadness and pleading in his eyes turn to the likeness of the kind old man I know he is on the inside.  I see the desperation become one with the now wide smile in a notion of gratitude.  I wave goodbye and smile again.

Outside a dirty train station, I look over and see a man and a woman lying on pieces of cardboard, trying to sleep under a stone stairway.  They are right next to a sewer, that can’t be very pleasant.  I notice a man with a big dent in his head, trying to get some rest while everyone stares as they walk by.

Months later, I go with my family and one of our Chinese friends to visit his hometown.  I am surprised as I eat a meal that our friend’s family worked very hard to prepare and was very good, yet they didn’t have running water to wash the dishes in.  They only have a big bowl they fill with water and wash their hands in.

In that same town, we went to another house that had only an old curtain for a door and dirt floors, walls, and ceilings.  Whatever the circumstances, there were always welcoming gestures, joyful eyes, and happy, smiling faces.  They were grateful for what they had, however little it may be.

I admire how they did that without complaint.  They shared whatever they had to make my family and I feel welcome and happy.  These experiences have given me more compassion and respect.

They have also helped me remember that when you look at someone, you only see one piece of the puzzle.  You can’t immediately see what the whole puzzle makes up.  You might find a piece of a puzzle that is green.  It could fit in to a picture of a forest, a park, a tree, a lettuce leaf, or an apple.  You can’t tell what is really happening, or has happened in their personal life.  For example, if you look at a rich man, and immediately think he is a selfish spoiled person he may actually have worked hard to earn his money, rather than inherited it from his father.

The beggars I see a lot usually smile and wave.  They can even muster up a kind word or two in the scorching heat, or the freezing cold.

It makes me sad, seeing these poor people in China, but it also makes me more grateful for what I have.  It brings me to an awareness of how fortunate I am to have a loving family, nice clothes, good food and water daily, and a place I can call home.

Thank you, China, for teaching me the true meaning of gratitude.




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