A Dilemma

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One day down and four to go! Yesterday wasn't so bad at the hospital, but I felt pretty crappy once I got home. Today is mediocre. About halfway done with treatment now. Gonna get through this.

Had am interesting dilemma yesterday in the food court though. I had just bought a delicious italian sub from subway, when a man tapped me on the shoulder looking for money. I instinctively ignored him in the same manner I might ignore one of those salespeople at mall kiosks selling useless products – I've gotten pretty good at that.

When I got to my seat I thought about what I had done. Totally ignored a man clearly desperate for some money. I mean who else could swallow their pride like that and start begging in the food court? And here I am, claiming to want to help the world's poor.

I got to talking to my Mom and Bethany about the situation and my guilt, as we ate lunch and watched the man still approaching people. What would he do with the money? Use it on food or, as we often tend to think, drugs and booze? How can we know? And why are we so afraid to talk to these people? I rarely just ignore someone and usually offer some money, but for some reason fear and instinct took over.

The situation really perplexed and bothered me. What do we, who live so comfortably, have to fear? Perhaps we fear becoming like this man – losing our material items, then necessities, and reaching desperation. I decided to ask for second chance. Bethany had half of her wrap left and I had four dollars. I thought offering him food may be insulting, sort of like, "let me decide what you should need".

I got up from my table, seeked out the man, approached him and said, "I'm sorry. I ignored you earlier and I shouldn't have." Next to the man was a security guard who clearly was unhappy. Still, I continued and asked the man what he needs. He replied that he just wants to buy something to eat. I offered him my half wrap, but he declined and told me I can eat it. Then I offered and gave him my four dollars. At this, the security guard got annoyed with me. He said, " you can't do that. He's harassing people." I replied, "No one should go hungry." The man thanked me a few times and I left.

Now I don't share this story to sound like some hero or something. I really hope I made the right decision, but I don't know. It's very possible the money will be used for drugs. But maybe it will prevent the man from further acts of desperation such as stealing money from someone. Or maybe the money really is for food. Maybe that man is Jesus. Maybe my act will make a difference in his life. I truly hope so.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry



Author: John Abdulla

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  1. Hi John,

    What matters more than whatever he uses the money for…is that you saw him and cared (And, it didn't hurt the guard to see him again through your eyes this time.).

    love you!

    oh! this just in!!!

    Avi and Celia benefit concert at the Middle East on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 11th for ONE Curry. //www.aviandcelia.com/fr_index.cfm

    Sounds like a documentary in the making to me…what do you think?

  2. or you could ask what he wants and buy it for him. That's we'd do a the rectory, give the person a food voucher for the diner next door, then pay the bill at the end of the month.

  3. Hi John!

    I've been reading with interest your reflections as always, and think of you often during the day and say aspirations for you all the time along with my regular prayers for you. I know they help….I have often thought my prayers for others are the most efficacious ones….the ones for myself, well, I'm never too sure. Perhaps that's the way God makes us….best when we focus on others. Indeed, that is the best form of everything….love, communication, intellectual inquiry, etc. Yes, to be other-centered….truly you are.

    John, Patty's reflections on "hell" and spirituality were profound…..I was deeply impressed…..deeply. I am not sure who said it, perhaps it was St. Catherine of Sienna (I know she wrote extensively on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell), but I think it goes something like this: When we die we will see God either a bucket-full, a thimble-full, or we won't see God at all….Hell is not seeing Him. We will determine our fate by how we love others or how we failed to love others….I think it went something like that.

    In terms of the man asking for money, I agree with Patty….it is not so much what he does, but how we respond….our internal response….I have gone through the same dilemma over the years….so many approach me and ask me for money….how do I respond? WOW!!! Many and varied ways….but one thing I know: most on the streets are using money for alcohol….I have seen men I have given money to on the streets an hour or so later and they are drinking out of a bottle down an alleyway and it makes me sad….did I help them get that next bottle? Sometimes the answer is yes. One of my dearest friends offers to take them to dinner….it is a risky proposition because there are many dangerous people on the streets…but he is streetwise and he knows the curse of alcoholism….but he has great success connecting to street people and he has done it for 20 years. One caution: has he been attacked and "rolled" and propositioned? Yes, a couple of times, but he continues to take some out to dinner when they approach him. (He always lets them approach him. By the way, he said the same thing you did: What if one is Jesus? Or, what if one is an Angel testing him?")

    Any way, EVERYONE must read my favorite author's book, The Greatest Miracle in the World! Yes, I still love Og Mandino's books….all of them….John, you must read it…it is short and yet, life-changing….it is amazing….especially at the end…I am certain Cassandra would love it too….and yes, Bethany too….maybe Patty too!? LOL! In other words, it is a must read!!! Also, I highly recommend Beyond the Relaxation Response: The Faith Factor, by Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D. It shows the science of faith in so many miraculous insights and studies.

    Also, those movies sound good, but I am still in my Jane Austen mood…(1) Pride and Prejudice and (2) Sense and Sensibility. The first is great, the second is my favorite. I tell everyone I am Mr. Darcy or Colonel Brandon. LOL! John, perhaps you and Bethany would love those movies too.

    Take good care and please know my prayers and best wishes are always with you and all whom you love….you will do great this week and we shall rejoice with further "name stories!" LOL!

    Prof. B.

    P.S. Your vacation at the Lake….wow!!! Wish I were there right now!

  4. John,
    Nothing as profound as some of your other "commenters" … but …

    If I didn't already know you to be a kind and generous and special spirit of the world, I would have said your generosity was one of the benefits of having cancer … giving you a more appreciative world and life view. Since you already had that before FOC, perhaps your cancer karma just helped you react a bit differently this time.

    Hope talking about "cancer benefits" doesn't sound too awful, but I think you know what I mean.

    And by the way, John. Whether you want to be or not, you are, in many ways, a hero.

  5. Way to set a beautiful example of Christ working through us all!

  6. Omggg! Johnny! You are amazing! I'm sitting at work here now and trying to control the tears of joy filling my eyes that are coming down, thank god this office is empty! Here is my loving brother asking for nothing, having cancer! You are the strongest person I know! I know I say this all the time but seriously! To have the audacity to go up to the man, a complete stranger for that matter and swallow your pride and apologize is truly incredible! I can't believe that security guard was so heartless and I love your response to him and I would have loved to see his face after you had said that "no one should go hungry." No matter how modest you are my dear, you are and will always be my hero and so much more! Everyday you inspire me more and more, teach me greatness and encourage me to challenge myself. I love you so much!
    Love always,

  7. What a truly inspiring story. It made my day. Hang in there. You did an awesome thing.

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