My Peace I Give to You

For years I had ignored the rude street people
with signs saying they were veterans
or they would work for food, as they looked able

Then one day, St. Elmo’s fire appeared
at the tip of a hand extended out of a car window
just before the glowing dollar bill disappeared

Silent questions began for the un-kept recipient
How was this Washington going to be used
Would it be to get another drink, or nourishment

I could not dismiss that an arm of the you
was all I saw, a radiant mast in the distance
A voice inside me said, My peace I Give to You

Slowly this peace explained the internal fight
Emotions let go, Christ, would decide
My scales fell, blindness turned to light

Yet, I could not let go this new circumference
I had seen a response to dignity
There was no crime, just innocence

As the days passed, I knew
it would be my turn to give my coat
My turn, for truth, to continue

Fear left, my window rolled down
I felt the clear air, a smile appeared
His God Bless You turned me upside down

Your part in the whole actualized
An unnamed hero I would not forget
My mast raised a little higher, ready to receive new light

I had connected, the other side vertically crossed
Grace, fire, that had blazed at the tip of your arm
Toppled another wall, gratefully lost forever


When I use to approach downtown lights and there was a unkept person with a sign, I had a negative reaction. My thoughts have drifted to the news on panhandlers, how some of them make more than I do in tax free hand outs, or they use this money to go buy more alcohol. I had no obligation to contribute to their addictions.  Then one overcast day, in this situation like I occasionally see was an arm sticking out of a car window holding a dollar bill.  George Washington’s picture on it seemed remarkably obvious.  The image of shooting plasma that occasionally appears at the top of a ships mast called St. Elmos fire suddenly came to mind welling up all kinds of emotions. Ideas began to mingle, Washington politics, Christ, my possessions, but one rose to the surface – dignity.  What if this person really needed the money? Could my judgment discern that? The answer became clear, I could no longer simply ignore the people at the light.  When my turn came, I was rewarded with a God bless you.  My list of hero’s continues to grow, but in this case all I had was an arm to associate with that hero.  That is ok as St. Paul says it takes many parts to make a whole.

For further reflection: People who so easily give to others with Matthew 19:16-30

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At the Tip of Your Hand