On my walk to work I heard a man singing in the distance. It was my luck to find I was headed directly for him and eagerly increased the pace and volume. This man, whose name I never got, was outside my restaurant with bags of his every possessions strewn on the ground. He pressed the buttons on his shirt to his chest and tilted his head towards the sky letting out everything in his lungs and soul. There was nothing traditional about his style or lyrics, but I was enraptured. Upon my approach we exchanged greetings, and I immediately asked him to keep singing. I had a few minutes before I was due for my shift, so I turned around and headed back home. I wanted to repay this man for sharing his gift with me by providing one of the few that I have: arranging and distributing food.
I put together a nice lunch in a bag and threw in a pair of clean socks, all of which he was extremely pleased to receive. He thanked god for me which I always appreciate despite being an atheist, and I was on my way to clock in. But before I could leave he began to elucidate his claim regarding how great god’s acts were and everything god does for us. For the first time since my reactionary teens I was annoyed by someones religiousness.
We left as friends and I was on time for work, but the more he spoke of his diety’s work the more it robbed my act of meaning. I am not upset that I lost credit for my actions, I miss the connection I made with him as a human being. I have never experienced faith personally, so perhaps there is a complexity to it that I simply do not understand. But from this person’s perspective am I not merely delivering god’s parcel? A mindless vessel fated to make a pb&j at 10:23 that morning.
It is important to state that even if I knew he would behave this way, he would still need those things, and therefore I would still have given them to him. The point of the entire process is to make his day slightly better, regardless of how it affects me.
I suppose more than anything I yearn for understanding. I want to see what his god has done for him besides keep him in the streets well into his sixties. I am eager for any chance to expand my impression of this world. Eventually I want to be the sort of person who asks strangers these kinds of questions without the fear that I will seem rude or insane.