Charity has been on my thoughts a lot lately. With all the suffering in the world I keep seeing and reading about, it's no wonder!
However, these thoughts have really been building up now, in the run up to Christmas and the turning of the seasons towards winter. I keep thinking that I want to do more, to help more people, but I never seem to quite know what to do or how to help.
The concert I went to with my mum to watch Il Divo, turned into a chance for me to help someone, even though it was only a small act.
As we all filed out into the streets after the concert, there sat on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, was a man, wrapped in a sleeping bag, head down, begging. He was totally silent, with just a hat place in front of him. I only watched him for a few moments, before I decided that I wanted to give him a bit of money. Before I got to him, I watched a woman place a few coins in his hat and walk away. Most people ignored him or pretended that he wasn't there. As I walked over to him, preparing just to place my coins in his hat, something just made me want to do a little more. So I crouched down next to him and asked him his name. It took a couple of tries before he actually looked up and saw that I was talking to him. I looked into the eyes of a tired, sad face and I just wanted to cry. We talked for a few moments, he told me that he was Edward. I said I was so sorry that he was homeless, and asked God to bless him. Before he left, I stayed beside him, and I learnt that he had been homeless for 15 years. As he left, with my money and others now safely tucked in his pocket (or possibly his bag, I don't remember exactly) he said goodbye and we waved at each other.
Now I know I only gave this man a few pounds and the hope that he could find a hot drink somewhere, but I think actually talking to him was the more important part for me. I wonder how many times we pass homeless people on the street, everyday without giving them a single glance or thought? Or the, 'I have seen you, but I'm going to pretend that I didn't' move, or even worse, some judgemental thought along the lines of 'why don't you just get a job!' etc.
I think that this has actually reinforced in me the need to do some charity work. I have been getting so much stronger and better over the last few weeks, so I think the time has come to find someone to help! Off to look at the volunteer opportunities in my local area, in just a moment.
The other thing it has made me realise is just how fortunate I am.
Sure, I have a mental illness, that causes me no end of problems, but I also have 2 beautiful healthy children. I have loving family and friends and a roof over my head. I have clothes to wear (even if some are holey and very very old!) and more than enough food and water to eat and drink.
I am more blessed than so many, and for that I am truly thankful!
I wonder if this year, in the run up to Christmas, we could all take a moment and think of those less fortunate than ourselves. A random act of kindness can go a long way, no matter how small!