Tuesday, May 31, 2011


He stands there on the busy downtown street corner directly in front of the Gothic church. He's always crowned with a cowboy hat. In the winter wind I quickly pass by with my head down and my face buried in my scarf. He calls out asking for money.
I reach deep into my coat pocket and pull out my rosary beads. "This is all I have" I say. "That's all you need" he replies with a smile.

Every day he stands there on the busy downtown street corner directly in front of the Gothic church always crowned with a cowboy hat. He smiles and says hello as I quickly pass by on my lunchtime walk. And others too, rush past, always in a hurry, but he just stands there greeting everyone, putting a smile into the lives of those who come his way.

Into the warm summer months he remains there, smiling and greeting passersby. I quickly run to catch the walk sign before it changes so I won't have to stand on the corner waiting. He calls hello and I mumble a quick greeting in reply. The light changes and as I walk away I hear "Pray for me?"

Did he remember that I am the one with the rosary in my pocket? I stop and turn in the middle of the intersection,smile, and say "I will!"

God of the lost and the lonely, those forsaken on the sidewalks of life, be with all who are eager to share a smile but have little else to give. Just as a cowboy hat offers shelter from the sun, shelter their hearts from fear, anxiety and hatred. Give to them whatever it is they most need at the moment whether it be a hot lunch, bus fare, or peace in their hearts. God of the lost and the lonely, thank you those who share smiles and friendly greetings and who ask for our prayers, for through them we are all a little less lost and lonely ourselves. Amen.


  1. A beautiful story, Anne! It helps us remember that every time we pass a homeless person that underneath the often rough exterior lies a beautiful soul created by God. I often see a man named Larry at Church with his Rosary in his hand praying to Our Lady. He is homeless. Many people have tried to help him but when they give him money he gives it away :) On very cold nights sometimes he'll accept shelter but nothing other than that. Someone gave him a hundred dollars once and he put it in the collection basket for new hymnals! My brother saw him! People are so much more than we see on the outside.
    I loved your story about the "cowboy panhandler" ! I prayed this prayer with you thinking about what a precious gift a smile is. He gave all he had :) God bless!

  2. What a touching post -- and an equally touching comment by Mary. I truly enjoy those times I am able to stop and invite a panhandler into a nearby restaurant or buy some other necessity for him/her with him/her. It brings home the reality that panhandlers are people like us, just living in different circumstances.

  3. Anne, beautiful post as usual. The homeless are very dear to my heart. Both Mother Teresa and Saint Damien reminded us to see Jesus in the most distressing disguise of the poor.