I didn't plan on it. I'm not even sure I would have liked the idea if it was posed to me, but somehow or another, this afternoon I found myself strolling down Whyte Ave in the pouring rain.
I stopped at the bank on the far west side of Whyte and then decided to make my way east. I managed to hit that peak moment where the rain picked up from its constant drizzle and became a full out pour. About half a block in I reconsidered. It wasn't cold, but it was a little chilly. People were rushing past me with umbrellas and raincoats with the hood up and I was wearing nothing more than jeans and a wool sweater. But, if you're gonna get wet....
So I kept on. And before I knew it, I was grinning and laughing and waving at people in restaurant windows who were pointing and smiling. A few blocks in, I stumbled upon a man asking for change, huddled between the overhang of two buildings. (Nothing unusual about that on Whyte ave) He had on a jacket and jeans and old black runners that let the puddles pour in through the rips and tears. He was grinning at me and said "how's your day sunshine?" I smiled back and stopped to chat for a little while. We talked about the beauty of the rain and the way people with umbrellas rush to get out of it while people who had no shelter - people like US - reveled in it. The way he said it took me by surprise a little. Looking down the street, I suddenly I felt more connected to this man hunched over with his hat out in his hand than I did to those shoppers scurrying under awnings and shaking their umbrellas out. I was sharing my day, my rain, my joy with him and when I looked back at him we both grinned and knew it.
Before I left home I had stuffed all my extra toonies and loonies lying around my room into my pocket for some unknown reason. I usually don't walk around with 5 pounds of change in my jeans, but today I did. He never asked me for money but before I walked away, I dug my hand into my pocket and poured whatever I had into his hat. He just looked down and laughed as I skipped away back into the deluge.
*I know, giving change to people who are begging on the street doesn't solve any problems. Many people I know complain about how its probably just supporting a drug/alcohol habit and it would be much more effective to donate to a street ministry or buy food/coffee/clothes/etc for the person. And while I understand this point of view, I think sometimes that it doesn't matter and its more important to connect. I shared my afternoon in the rain with him, my change is a far smaller gift.*