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Jewish Journal

Blessings from Paris to San Francisco

by Ilana Angel

October 26, 2012 | 3:31 pm

Earlier in the week I was running an errand when I came upon a homeless man standing outside a Payless Shoe Store.  He appeared to be in his 60’s, but I bet he was younger.  As I passed him he asked me if I wanted to go with him to Paris for the weekend.  I let him know that I was flattered, and was I not dating someone, I would have happily jetted off with him.  I gave him $2, told him he made me day, and we parted ways.

I immediately called the Englishman and let him knew he better be on his game because there was a line forming of men who wanted to whisk me away to Paris.  He laughed, but seriously, I was not kidding.  I have had an emotional week. I’ve been stressed, tired, worried, and somewhat overwhelmed.  Not anything in particular, just a bunch of little things that gathered all together have been quite draining and Paris souded pretty good.

I am one that always counts my blessings.  There are days however when I forget.  By forget of course I mean I’m just not in the mood.  It’s not that I can’t be bothered, or that I’m wallowing in self-pity, it’s just that I’m tired and I know God will lead me back to gratitude.  No matter how stressed I am, or how much I think things suck, at the end of the day I am very aware of exactly how lucky of a girl I am.

Today I was back in the same area and I saw the homeless man from earlier in the week sitting on the sidewalk.  As I approached he asked if I wanted to go with him to San Francisco for the weekend.  I started laughing and reminded him that earlier in the week he had invited me to Paris.  Without skipping a beat, he looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve fallen on hard times this week, but it will still be a great weekend”.

I started to laugh and before I could control myself, I began to cry.  I hit a wall and it all just came pouring out.  The man looked at me as if I was crazy, then started to dig through his backpack.  As I told him I was sorry, and he offered me a handkerchief.  Who uses a handkerchief anymore?  I had already grabbed Kleenex from my purse, so I thanked him and blew my nose in a rather unladylike way.  That made him laugh.

We got to talking and he shared a story with me that I am going to keep to myself, and cherish forever.  I told him I was a writer and was going to write about how kind he was.  He told me, “No names and no pictures.  I’m so old I’ve forgotten who could be looking for me, so you must protect me.”   We were now both laughing and in the middle of the street, I was able to see my blessings with profound clarity with the help of a stranger.

I asked the man if he needed anything and he said he could use some shoes so if he needed to run, he’d be ready.  We walked up the street to a Payless Shoe store and I bought him some new sneakers.  I gave him $20 cash, and I thanked him for being so kind.  He thanked me in return, gave me his handkerchief as a thank you gift, and we parted ways with the promise that if I ever found myself single, I’d look him up.

Being kind is free, and it really matters.  This man showed me kindness and his sense of humor put a smile on my face, and in my heart.  I am going to spend the weekend with my son, who is my greatest blessing.  I hope you all take a minute to find a blessing in your life and be thankful.  Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend.  Be safe, be brave, be kind, breathe deeply, and remember to keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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