“Have you got some coins I could have?” This came from a man seated at the bus-stop in the city, where I stood waiting for a bus. He didn’t look like a beggar. He didn’t seem dirty or dishevelled. I felt like asking what he needed the money for. I told myself later that this was because I might have offered him more than the couple of dollars I had in my coin purse – perhaps some notes. But no – coins he had asked for, and coins were what I gave him.
I had learned many years ago that if someone asks me specifically for money like that, I should give it. There were a couple of instances in my past when I was asked for money by beggars: one was a very dirty man sitting on the ground outside a railway station, the other a young woman from Eastern Europe on a train in the UK. On both of those occasions, I did what everyone else did, and turned my back on them. It was only in hindsight that I realised the significance of these events, as is the case with so many of life’s great moments. If they weren’t so significant, why would I remember them so clearly now, so many years later?
You see, I believe they were angels. For it was while thinking of these events that I remembered the bible passage (Hebrews 13:2): “ Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” and another (Matthew 25:35 & 40) which quoted Jesus saying: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
But today, I had given the coins to this bus-stop man, so why didn’t I feel joyful? I thought that giving to others was supposed to make you feel good. What was the problem here? This was the question I asked myself as I took my seat on the bus. Was it that I was still judging the bus-stop man, even though I had given him coins? No, I don’t think so. Was it that I was still judging myself as still not being good enough, because I had only given him a few measly coins?
I started to remind myself of the money I had given to charities, and the time I had devoted to particular causes recently. It was only then that I could start to tell myself that I really am quite wonderful, and started to feel joyful.
I realised that there is no point in the angels providing us with opportunities to act like our true selves, if we still refuse to see our true magnificence. We need to start seeing ourselves as the angels do – as wonderful, magnificent beings. We need to start reminding ourselves how wonderful we all are, starting with our individual selves.
I know this is hard. We have been taught that this is wrong. You might have been allowed to appreciate other people, but never yourself. But if you believe that you and everyone else were made in the image and likeness of God, you cannot help but appreciate how wonderful you truly are.
Can you find a way to appreciate yourself each day? Perhaps you made your children a meal – that’s worth appreciating. Maybe you smiled at a stranger as you passed – that could have made their day. As you start to notice the wonderful things you do to help others, acknowledge and appreciate yourself. You are a blessing to this planet. Remember that.
Everyone is a blessing to this planet. When your husband changes a light bulb, appreciate and acknowledge that. When your child picks something up that you have dropped, notice how wonderful they are, and please remember to tell them. Start to see yourself and everyone else as the magnificent beings that we all are, and you will start to see us as the angels do.
Was the bus-stop man really an angel?
After the man thanked me for the coins, I looked up, and the bus had arrived. After some passengers alighted, I stepped onto the bus and turned to make my way towards the back. As I did so, I looked over to see what the man was doing. There was no sign of him.