Have you ever felt nudged to do something, and you don’t know why? That happened to Casey Fischer, a college student who saw a homeless man gathering change for coffee and found herself pestering him in order to get his attention:
“Today I went to Dunkin’ Donuts and saw a clearly homeless guy sitting on the side of the road and picking up change. Eventually I saw him stroll into Dunkin. As he was counting his change to buy something I began to get super annoying and talked to him over and over again, even when he didn’t really want to talk. Since he had maybe $1 in change I bought him a coffee and bagel and asked him to sit down with me. He told me a lot about how people are usually very mean to him because he’s homeless, how drugs turned him into the person he hated, he lost his mom to cancer, he never knew his dad and he just wants to be someone his mom would be proud of…”
Casey learned the man’s name — such a small but important thing to do, because to ask someone’s name is to really make them feel seen. And feeling seen is the first and most fundamental requirement to feeling loved, even a little bit and (as Sr. Theresa Aleteia Noble writes), everyone just wants to be loved.
Fischer posted her encounter with Chris on Facebook, where she shared the impact of that strange nudge that had pushed her forward, and an important photograph: “This lovely man’s name was Chris and Chris was one of the most honest & sincere people I’ve ever met. After realizing I really need to get back to class Chris asked me to wait so he can write something down for me. Handing me a crumpled up receipt he apologized for having shaky hand writing, smiled, and left. I opened his note and this was it.”
If you cant quite read it, the note says, ‘I wanted to kill myself today, because of u I now do not. Thank u, beautiful person.’
It is a lesson we seem to need to learn over and over — that our kindness toward each other can make the difference between someone wanting to live or wanting to die; between wanting to give up, or trying to go on.
We really do not scratch the surface of understanding just how important it is to fully see one another as human people with innate dignity, but the truth is, it is utterly vital. If we can’t do it, stuff like this happens.
“How many [people] feel left out of family celebrations, cast aside and longing each day for a little love?” — Pope Francis, July 6, 2015