How my daughter and a bag of grapes helped me be a better person today.

Posted on December 9, 2011


"White" table grapes

Image via Wikipedia


“Jordan, did you eat your grapes today?”

“No. I gave them to Maya because she didn’t have a snack today. Sorry, Dad.”

“Don’t be sorry, that was very nice of you.”

Mark 10:15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

As I packed another small bag of grapes into Jordan’s lunch, they looked good. So, I made an extra bag for myself to eat at the office.

God works in strange ways…

When I ride the train each morning, I read the news on my phone, browse Facebook, and think about what my day will be like. I pictured the Salvation Army volunteer ringing his bell outside of Union Station and remembered how guilty I usually feel walking past him because I’m too busy acting like a contestant on The Amazing Race to actually stop, get out my wallet and give him a couple of bucks. “Today,” I think, “I want this guy to have a smile on his face for a few seconds, instead of the look of mild amazement when hundreds of us pass him by without acknowledging his existence.” So I pull a couple of dollars from my wallet and put them in my front pocket. Today, it seems, I’m a bit more prepared to be intentional.

It works, he smiles and rings the bell a little louder as I drop the donation in the red bucket.

Next, I cross the bridge over the Chicago River and see the same homeless guy standing there. Leaning on one crutch. Wearing the same clothes he always wears. Also wearing the same haggard, worn look that he always wears.

I can’t explain the tugging I feel on my heart when I see men and women like this on the street. In a split second, my mind goes through a range of questions. Are they homeless because of mental instability? Drug problems? Is this guy hiding from the law? Ooooh, shiny thing….It’s usually enough of a distraction for me to pass by without doing anything about it. After all, there are so many homeless people and only one of me.

But today was different. When I approached him, he had a resigned look on his face and was staring down the river. I wondered, was he appreciating the beautiful skyline or dreaming of being in a better place than this?  I reached into my pocket as I walked up and he held his cup of change out. Instead of change, I followed Jordan’s lead and gave my friend the small bag of grapes I had packed the night before.

It was so cool, because for a moment, his haggard, worn, look completely changed. I asked if he’d like some food and as he smiled and said yes, his face totally transformed. He looked way younger and happier, almost like a child getting a present. It made me think of how easily we gave as kids, before we became jaded and selfish. I wonder if the look on my face changed at all. I know this man made me feel great. 

I don’t want to overstate my part in this because all I did was give a guy a small bag of grapes. What I do want to emphasize is that very small gesture appeared to mean a lot to this guy. Even if only for a couple of seconds, you have to believe that it made a difference by the look on his face. By the way I felt, I wonder if he is the one who was there to help me.

Who do you walk by every day? What can you do intentionally to make someone smile and let them know they’re not alone? We are supposed to be God’s example to people.

 Thanks, Jordan, for teaching your dad a lesson. 

Posted in: December 2011