Stand Firm in Love
“Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.” Sai Baba
On my birthday two years ago, during the height of the pandemic, I got into a fight with a homeless man. And all I wanted was to eat my muffins. The pandemic was making me feel lost, lonely, frustrated, and honestly angry. I didn’t know if TDS would survive and I felt like everything was out of my control. But it was my birthday and I needed companionship and distraction so I messaged Shelley and asked “Can we go out to celebrate?”
We went to Kensington Market. We were having a blast – talking, laughing, eating delicious food and we decided to wrap up the day at a nice coffee shop with a patio. The barista took our orders. And I casually mentioned that it was my birthday. I will be completely honest with you – I only said it because I was hoping she would give me something for free. She wished me a happy birthday and I thanked her and paused, waited expectantly, and batted my eyelashes at her.
“Hey, do you want some muffins?”
Giggling like a little boy, I said “I would love them!” We got our drinks and the muffins and went to sit on the patio. Shelley and I were still laughing and having a great time but within a couple of minutes, I heard an argument.
I looked over and there was a homeless man, smoking a cigarette and yelling and cursing at the barista. People had complained about him smoking on the patio. The barista went out to the patio to ask him to throw out the cigarette. She wasn’t asking him to leave, just to stop smoking
He started yelling and screaming. Honestly, he said things that I cannot write here, but it was bad. The barista was in tears, and she ran inside. I was angry but I didn’t want to get involved. It was my birthday! And yet, I saw the injustice and I was angry and I couldn’t help myself.
I got up and walked over. He banged the table and I saw his chapstick fall on the ground. So I immediately thought – opportunity! I can grab his chapstick, hand it to him and maybe that will be an olive branch and we can figure something out.
As I bent down to pick up the chapstick, I looked up and I saw a foot whiz by my face. He tried to kick me! It was an inch away. I didn’t even avoid the kick. He simply missed. The funniest thing was all I noticed was the hole in the bottom of his shoe as his foot whizzed by my face.
I was shocked but still thought I could help so I said “Hey, you dropped this…”
“Don’t touch me! You have COVID! Don’t touch me! Get away from me!”
At that moment, I completely regretted becoming involved. All I wanted was to sit at my table and eat my birthday muffins. But you know they say heroes are called at inconvenient times. I put the chapstick on the table and I looked at him. “Brother, how can I help?”
“F. you! Don’t get involved! You can’t help with anything!”
“Dude, I have nothing but love. Your smoking is bothering people. What can I do for you? How can I help?” Suddenly, he got up and I realized how small I was because he was about six foot four and I’m five seven. He extended his hand. I didn’t want to grab it because I saw how dirty and sticky it was. I thought I was going to catch Covid or that he might head-butt me or something. Honestly, all I saw for a moment was this mess of a human being.
But something came over me and suddenly I saw a human in pain and I reached for his hand. He pulled me in for a hug and said “I’m sorry.”
He looked inside the coffee shop and apologized to the barista. “I’m so sorry.”
He threw out his cigarette and I could just see shame and guilt on his face.
“I’m here from the States for a couple of weeks and I don’t have a place to stay. Everybody is always kicking me out. The police are always kicking me out. Nobody is treating me nicely. You’re the first person who has been nice to me. I’m leaving now. I won’t bother you or anyone.”
He grabbed his bag and I felt a massive wave of love and compassion for this human being who just didn’t feel like he belonged. I looked over at my table and groaned inwardly because I knew what I had to do but they were my birthday muffins! As he started to walk away, I said “Hey man, you want some muffins?” He was shocked and asked me if I was sure. I reassured him that it was okay and handed him the muffins. We hugged again and he walked away.
Then all the other people on the patio started clapping and applauding at how it got resolved. Everyone was shocked. I was shocked. And what I learned that moment was underneath the anger, whenever someone lashes out, it is someone who’s hurting, who is afraid.
It’s hard, I have lost my temper so many times BUT I try to remind myself of that moment. That when someone is throwing punches (or kicks in my case) it’s because they are hurting inside.
The most difficult and the bravest thing we can do in those situations is to STAND FIRM IN LOVE. Even when people don’t love themselves, we can still show them love. We can be the person that finally proves to them that they #belong.
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