Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Melvin Marches On


--by twocents, posted Apr 17, 2016
“Hey Melvin! How are you doing?!”

It had been more than two months since I saw the homeless man who taught me so much from his life on the streets. Now he was standing before me inside the train station sporting a long leather jacket, a fancy felt hat with an elegant feather in it, and some new reading glasses perched on top of the hat.

“I’m doing good!” he says as he lunges at me for a hug, but then stops short and offers a fist bump. I can tell he really is doing much better.

“Where you sleeping these days? Did you get into that program?” I ask.

“Well no, not quite. I’m at the church now,” he says.

“You sleeping there?”

“No, I’m working there! I’m the gardener,” he says with a big grin. “And I’m volunteering, just like you!” 

“Oh man, that’s great Melvin!” I say with effusive joy.

“You're my guru, man! Come by and visit sometime.”

We share a few more words about exactly what church he’s at and some quick updates about my recently born son, before he reminds me not to miss my train and I dash off.

In the 5 – 6 months that I was offering some warm food to him and chatting with him, I learned a lot about myself, humanity, and the Tao of the World. This morning, I couldn’t help but think of another lesson from long ago that finally became real for me.

“How do you change people, particularly difficult people?” someone asked of the wise monk, Rev. Heng Sure.

“You don’t,” he replied instantly. “You serve them with love. Through that service, some affinities between you may arise. And through those affinities, they will naturally emulate you, and be changed.”

Rev. Heng Sure’s words from more than a decade ago rang instantly true to me, and though I’ve been practicing being of service for a little while now, I suppose I was never serving anyone on a mostly daily basis for a long enough period who was in such a difficult situation. 


There were a handful of conversations where I would talk to Melvin about what he had to offer the world, and then to go out and do it with no strings attached. That the great secret was in doing small things, and that through making other people’s days a little brighter, our own lives get filled with light. I’d also talk about present moment awareness, and deepening it with equanimity to break the cycle of addiction. Part of me always wondered if any of that registered, or was ridiculous navel gazing gibberish to a person living on the streets. Today I got a little answer.

In our modern context, preaching has very negative connotations. That’s because its often laced with judgment and sense of superiority, mostly carrying a stench of hypocrisy.

Yet in its original sense, I believe preaching was about sharing one’s alignment in truth and goodness with great love.

May we all learn to preach constantly. And use words if necessary ☺
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Readers Comments

kindai1 wrote: Truly inspiring to hear this. Now i know how to treat my difficult co workers. It is true actually. Thank you for this kind reminder
mindyjourney wrote: Your life is your message, my friend, and you teach with loving compassion <3. So wonderful to hear how well Melvin is doing! Congrats on your newborn son <3.
splain wrote: I just love your post. You have nailed this kindness and concern. So happy to here how Melvin has changed and going forward with his life. so wonderful about your gorgeous new son. What a lovely post.
smileswithhope wrote: So awesome to hear about this! :) Thank you for sharing such a powerful story and insights, and for offering such kind care to Melvin. Also, to echo Mindyjourney, congrats on your newborn! :)
AndiCas wrote: Thanks so much for sharing this. And congratulations!
Mish wrote: You have a very contagious kindness energy :). In addition to much shared wisdom. Thank you for making a difference in our world. Elated for your friend Melvin & blessings on the birth of your son , whom, I am sure will grow up to be a kindness person like his Dad. ❤️
horsegirl21 wrote: thank you for your story of Melvin and your life of service to others...blessings to you.
leoladyc728 wrote: thank you for giving the update on Melvin. It seems with your love and faith in him, he has really grown and is having a much better life.
terre wrote: Isn't it great that you've had enough time and connection with this man to be able to see his transformation? And yours, too!
KindMyst wrote: What a joyous share. The energy is so lovely. Congratulations on the birth of your son.

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