When Ten Equals Ten Thousand
"Every person is a golden link in the chain of my good."
- Florence Scovel Shinn
As my son and I were walking down the street toward our neighborhood supermarket here in Berlin recently, we noticed a homeless man and his dog sitting on the sidewalk about a half block from the supermarket. I guess I shouldn't say homeless for I don't know his level of need, but even if he had a home, he was a man who needed some help. That was obvious.
We see people in need almost everywhere we travel, and we do whatever we can do that might be of help to them. As we walked toward the supermarket, I already knew what I was going to do...buy some dog treats to give his best friend along with some money for him.
When we exited the store, we saw them walking away. Luckily, he stopped up ahead of us and secured his dog outside another market while he went inside. We had the dog treats and a bit of money ready to give him, so we waited beside his dog for the man to return. He came back out of the store almost immediately with nothing in hand, and we greeted him and handed him the dog treats and ten euros. I can honestly say that never in my life, in many years of sharing what I can with people in need, have I ever seen anyone's face light up like his face did. He seemed shocked by the small bag of dog treats and the ten euros. He spoke no English, but I understood him when he repeatedly said, "Vielen Dank!! Vielen Dank!!" He was bursting with joy and gave us both a hug. I said, "You are welcome." Even as we walked away, he was repeatedly saying thank you.
It made our day to help someone and to witness such joy and gratitude, and it also made me feel deep compassion for those who live a life where a mere ten euros is such a large sum of money to them. I found myself saying to my son, "I wish I had given him more." Ten euros would barely buy the man a sandwich and a drink, and he acted like he had won the lottery.
My friends, may we never forget or take for granted that we are so fortunate if we have money in our wallet that we can give away, a roof over our heads, if we can eat when we are hungry, drink when we are thirsty, take a hot shower whenever we like, feed our pets, stay inside where it's warm, have our own bed and toilet. If we can get up and walk every morning, have a sound mind, and feel, touch, see, hear, taste, smell, think, and so much more, then we are the most fortunate people in the world. Each one of those things individually is an incredible privilege to be grateful for, and most of us have all of those things and more. On top of that, if you have love in your life, well, you have everything.
Florence Scovel Shinn (1871-1940), quoted above, was an American artist and book illustrator who became a New Thought spiritual leader and metaphysical writer in her middle years.