The day was sunny yet the Chicago wind still tried its best to penetrate through our coats as my daughter and I walked the 3 blocks to collect her brother from school.
This was our usual path to school and we were happily shouting, singing and listening to our echos as we walked underneath one of the cities many train lines.
Over the past few years, these under-passes have become beautiful canvases for local artists to display their skills. They have also become a place for the homeless to seek shelter from the elements.
As we walked toward the end of the underpass we noticed that someone had started building their little home in-between two of the cement pillars next to the street. My daughter ran a few feet ahead of me and before I knew it had struck up a conversation with her “new friend.”
During their conversation my 4-year-old daughter covered topics which included “Why do you live outside? Do you have any pets? What’s your favorite food? Would you like to come over and play?”
Each and every response from this new friend was kind, gentle and loving. This woman’s eyes sparkled like black diamonds when she looked deep into my daughter’s and they quickly bonded over their shared love of pasta with red sauce.
As we were leaving, my daughter turns to her new friend and asks if there was anything she needed (my daughter has had heard me say this to other people we’ve met in need of help).
The lady pauses for a few seconds and says “You know, it does get pretty chilly at night sleeping outside. If you happen to have any extra blankets laying around I would be mighty grateful for them.”
My grandmother passed away 5 months ago and we had received some of her nice bed linens which I had put aside for the guest room. When I heard the request I immediately knew just the blanket she needed.
Now, when we pass by this woman’s humble home on our daily walk to school I’m reminded not only of the pure unconditional and non-judgemental love of a child, but I also see a little of my grandma’s love keeping someone else warm at night.
Not everyone is blessed with safety and shelter.
Not every homeless person is an addict or a criminal.
Teach and model humanity for your child and watch the world change from black and white into a rainbow of colors that stem from kindness, thoughtfulness and understanding.
““These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.” — Pope Francis, current Head of the Catholic Church.