There is an image etched in my memory from the early 1970's that when I recall it, it stabs my heart. In 1971, I had just begun working for a large bank. Each morning as I walked to work down the main street, I passed a lady (perhaps then in her thirties) sitting in a wheelchair. Every workday and year round, she sat in front of a department store next to the bank. It is the wintertime scene that is imprinted in my mind.
She was dressed in shabby clothes with a blanket across her lap. Her long thin fingers, rough and red from the winter cold, clutched a small can filled with pencils. I remember watching as many business people rushed into the store to buy their morning coffee and pastry at the lunch counter and then hurry past her without even glancing her way. Occasionally someone would toss a coin into her tin can and she'd smile and give a hearty thank you.
I thought to myself, 'What a sad way to earn a living?' In my youthful ignorance I contemplated many times of buying a pencil from her but I didn't need one and I really didn't have much money myself - maybe tomorrow. Then one day she was gone.
It was then I realized the point and the opportunity I had missed. I suffered with the all-too-common "I Syndrome". I didn't have much money because I had just started working. I didn't need a pencil. I thought she'd be there tomorrow. I simply pitted her.
Today, I understand it would have been good for both of us, if I had bought a pencil from her now and then, smiled at her, spoken to her, perhaps even bought a cup of hot coffee for her. God had presented an opportunity for me. I thoughtlessly tossed it aside. A small good deed would have meant a lot to one in need yet I foolishly thought tomorrow - someday - when I have some money - I will help.
Someday is now.