When I first passed by, I noticed that he was not your “typical” panhandler. He was in that typical busy location, and he held a sign but that is where the similarities ended.
At first glance, I couldn’t quite read his sign but from what I could tell it did not ask for anything what so ever. I went about my morning, business as usual, but the sight of this man kept creeping back into my thoughts. I was drawn to him for some reason. I had no idea how to approach him but could not resist the urge.
Nervous and unsure of what I was going to say, I pulled my truck to a near by location and just sat there for a few minutes. I could see him but still could not read either of the two signs he held. Then I saw him wipe the sweat from his brow, and I knew that I had my opening.
I got out of my truck and retrieved a bottle of water from the ice chest in the back of my truck, and mustered the courage to approach this man. Commenting on how hot it was going to get today, I handed him the water and we exchanged greetings. His name was William, and he was from
Something deep inside of me was pulling to know more about this man so I asked him what he was doing. It was at this point that I was finally able to read each of the signs that he held in his lap as he told me his story. Here was this humble soft spoken man just trying to spread a little peace and love. You see his signs asked for nothing but were just simple reminders of the good in the world.
As we talked, another man stopped in the busy intersection and asked me to give William some money for him. As I took the money from the man and walked back over to William, I felt no shame at all. He told me that people occasionally gave him money and that was ok because he did not eat as often as he should. The money helped. However, his reason for being there was not to collect donations, but to give to anyone that he could a little good feeling or some hope. Hope for mankind and hope in the world was exactly what William was giving me today.
Albeit soft spoken, this man had a powerful presence. His spoken words rang loudly in my ears even over the busy traffic. He spoke of good in the world and the good in people. I felt compelled to tell him about my children and my fears as a father of raising boys in this world where evil and hatred are still so prevalent in today’s society. William assured me that I was on the right path. “The youth are our future,” he said, “and we must guide them accordingly.”
I asked him if his circumstances were different how his life might be different. He told me that the only thing that might chance if he had legs was that he would have a job. You see William has no legs, and is in a wheel chair.
As our time came to a close, I again shook his hand and thanked him for sharing his time and his story with me. I fought back the desire to take his picture, sitting there in that wheel chair and holding those signs. I wanted to make sure to remember him, but soon realized that I would never be able to forget. God put William in my path today for a reason and the lessons learned from him will forever stick in my heart.
Today I added another name to the list of people for whom I run. I met a man today and his name is William.