There Once Was a Man from Calcutta...


Have you ever had one of those days...? You worked 10 hours, commuted for 2... the check you needed to in the mail weeks ago was returned to sender and it finally gets to you... but your business account is overdrawn and by tomorrow you'll be hit with a fat overdraft fee.. and the only way to spare it is to make it all the way to the ATM to make a deposit since you now have that check you needed...but the only ATM for your bank is too far to walk to and you don't have enough change to get there... so you go to buy something at the store to get cash back to take the bus but the minimum is more than the total you have... so you walk out with a sandwich and a drink instead and no bus money?

And then your neighborhood homeless pal Anjan is standing outside of CVS with his belongings (what's in a backpack and some strange random articles, that include a doll and his blanket for sleeping outside under carports and such). He's just standing there gazing into the laundry mat window at you don't know who or what. He's wearing his filthy rags, as usual...pants with holes in them, a shirt you can tell was expensive once, unbuttoned and now dingy gray instead of dry clean fresh. (I really have to find him some clothes to wear.)

As a matter of fact, I just saw him this morning, in front of the same place while heading out on my way to work. I waved from a distance this morning like I always do.  I didn't have time to grab him a coffee or drink like I often do. And here he was again, pan-handling for food- prob booze. I saw him asleep under the body shop overhang once passed out drunk next to his shopping cart. That's when I saw the vodka bottle and juice. I wonder if he drank before homelessness or after to stay warm. Anyhow, I've talked to him often and that's how I know his name is Anjan. He's from Manhattan, homeless for 8 years, software engineer who used his left-over frequent flier miles to get here to escape cold in NY. Homeless in NY must be miserable in winter. So here he is... hanging out in Toluca Lake. His parents are Hindu, Indian- from Calcutta. I imagine his family must be decently wealthy with his educated speech and elegant tone.

Well, I almost walked off to think about what else to do about my situation. Then... I remembered JESUS. I looked at Anjan... I walked over and asked him, "Anjan- you wanna split a sandwich?" So I took my half, put on some mayo... and let him finish off the other half of my mayo package... and we just stood there and ate our sandwich halves, while I told him about my silly little dilemma about the banking nightmare. He suggested the bank down the street but I reminded him you can't deposit from an ATM that isn't your own bank. Then the whole thing just seemed like a silly reason to be stressed over anything at all. We were chatting about the weather, and he's telling me it's warm enough to not need his blanket outdoors... and I'm worrying about a stupid overdraft fee for what? Really?

The honest to God truth is, before I walked out the door, as I always do- I pray. I was expecting to be out for a couple hours, perhaps dropping fliers for this site on cars since I'm in an office all day now, and neglecting my homeless projects to manage preventing my own poverty. But I prayed, and what I prayed for was this: Father, thank you for all your blessings and for always providing a means and a way. Be with me as I step out tonight and allow me to bear fruit from whatever encounters I have and to be a blessing to anyone you want me to. 

Was I thinking about that prayer when I stepped out of CVS? Not at all. It wasn't until after I left Anjan with my cold drink to wash down his sandwich and I was walking back home did it hit me- once again- GOD never forgets what I pray for. AMEN