A small, impoverished boy was
standing barefoot on the
New York City streets, looking
wistfully in the window of
a shoe store. A well dressed
woman, walking down the street,
saw him and asked
him, �My child, why are you looking
so sadly in this window?�
The small boy looked up at
her and replied, �I am asking
God to please give me a
pair of shoes.�
The woman took the boy�s
small hand and led him into the shoe store, where she
immediately asked the clerk for a bucket of warm water and
10 pairs of socks. Then, placing the boy�s dirty feet into
the water, she tenderly washed them and then put a pair of
warm socks on him. Then, she told the clerk to bring shoes
for the boy.
As they left the store, the
boy�s small feet now snugly in a pair of new shoes, and a
bag of warm socks held tightly in his fist, he clenched the
woman�s hand and looked up into her eyes. �Are you God�s
wife?� he asked.
story is not only a beautiful snippet from life in a big
city. Rather it is a deep lesson about how to live our own
lives. Instead of simply saying, �Oh, how sweet,� and moving
on, let us really take this story to heart.
it is to pass by those less fortunate with a simple sigh of
sympathy or with a token �aid,� perhaps a coin or two tossed
in their direction. These small gestures of empathy and
charity make us feel like we are compassionate people who
just live in an �unjust� world. However, is the homeless man
helped by our sigh of disdain? Does the coin we hand him
really make a difference? Are we really being compassionate,
or are we just soothing our own consciences?
more difficult it is to really stop, take a moment out of
our hectic lives and see what is needed. Yet, how much more
divine that is. There are always places to be and things to
do. If we wait until we are �free� in order to take care of
others, the time will never come. Real divinity, real
selflessness is giving when it is not necessarily convenient
to give. It is giving according to the others� needs, not
according to our own agenda and convenience.
wealthy woman probably had some place else to be on that
cold day in New York City. She could have easily walked by
the boy, thinking to herself, �Our government really needs
to do something about homelessness;� she could have looked
the other way and continued on with her errands. But she
didn�t. That is what makes her special.
to give decadently to ourselves and to our own families.
Particularly at this holiday season. We will pile gifts for
our families under Christmas trees until there is no room
left. We will spend hours dreaming up the ideal present for
our family members. We will shop and shop for the perfect
gift for our friends, acquaintances and colleagues. No
problem. We love each other and so we give gifts. This is
fine. However, let us also remember, though, to extend that
compassion and that love to others who really need it. Let
us remember that our family extends beyond the walls of the
blood cell. The child starving on the street, the HIV+
orphan whose parents died of AIDS, the handicapped and
homeless shivering under a thin blanket living in a doorway
--- they may not share our DNA, they may not have joined our
family through vows of marriage, they may not have come
through our own womb. Yet that does not make them any less
our true family. It does not make them any less our
own flesh and blood or our own responsibility. Our
scriptures say "Vasudhiaiva kutumbakam." It means,
"The world is one family." This is not a trite slogan to
plead for world peace. Rather it is the veritable truth of
our own existence. It is an undeniable fact to which anyone
who has come even remotely near spiritual awareness will
attest. It is nothing but
the veil of Maya (cosmic illusion) that makes one child seem
like "ours" and another child seem like "not ours."
They are all ours.
season let us truly work at cultivating the divine vision
which allows us to see every suffering child as our own,
every homeless man as our father, every woman unable to
provide her babies with proper nutrition or medicines as our
own mother, every elderly person dying alone in pain and
agony as our own grandparent. Let the love in our hearts
which we feel for our limited families extend and extend
until it overflows and touches every person in every corner
of the world.
As we perform
our daily meditations, let us add a special meditation in
which we feel our heart grow and expand with each breath.
Let the love and the warmth we feel in our heart expand
throughout our bodies into the tips of our fingers, so that
all those we touch are touched by the hand of love. Let us,
with each exhalation, release another brick in the wall of
our own limited sense of self until our true Self expands
and flows and melts into all of Creation. Let us, in
our prayers, pray just as fervently, just as passionately
for those whom we think are "strangers" as for those whom we
think are "family."
vow never to turn a blind eye on someone in need. Let us vow
to use what God has given us to really serve His children.
Let us live our lives as though we, too, are �God�s wife.�
May God bless you
In the service of God and
Swami Chidanand Saraswati