Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Garden Of Blessings


--by wayfarer, posted Apr 20, 2008
There’s a park that runs through the centre of Edinburgh. Sitting beneath Edinburgh Castle, the Princes Street Gardens are full of families, sunbathers and, of course, ice cream stands on sunny days.  The weekend my wife and I spent in Edinburgh was scorching. We had an amazing time, seeing the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and being entertained by street performers along the Royal Mile, all rehearsing their acts for the Edinburgh Festival of the Arts.

Well, all good things must come to an end. So, we packed our bags and left the hotel. The gardens were empty at this time of day so we decided to walk through them on the way to the station.  That’s when I saw the old fellow.

Picture a “salty old sea-dog” with deeply lined face and bushy white beard. He was wearing the tattered remains of several coats, which seemed to be lined with black, plastic bin bags. He was walking diagonally up a grassy hill, bent over as though carrying a heavy burden.  I thought, perhaps, he walked that way because of a spinal problem. My wife, the practical one, suggested he was more likely searching the grass for coins dropped by sunbathers.  I couldn’t just walk by.

When I reached him he had just sat down on a park bench. He looked at me with emotionless, unflinching eyes.  “Are you having a good day?” I asked.  “Yes!” His voice was almost gone. Perhaps unfairly I thought of vocal chords burned away by cheap whiskey. But there was no doubting the determination behind what voice he had.

I held out some money.  “Can I give you this?”  He looked away.  “No.”  “Oh, well, can I buy you breakfast, at least?”  “No.” Later my wife suggested he might prefer to make his living by scavenging. Perhaps his pride wouldn’t let him be a beggar.  And that was almost the whole story.

I squeezed his shoulder, wished him good luck and walked away, dropping the money where I hoped he might see it.  “Do you know what hit me the strongest about all of that?” I asked my wife on the train a few hours later.  “What?”  “Not his pride – or stubbornness – not his ingenuity in searching for the coins that were bound to be dropped in the park, but how certain he was that he was having a good day. When I think about how many of my worst days would still be better than his good day …”

I came away from the encounter a few pounds poorer, but I found I was infinitely richer when I did a quick re-count of my blessings.
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Readers Comments

kemperneck wrote: Thats the kind of thing that also motivates me to be kind.

Never ever cry about not having the best of shoes or the newest fad or most expensive shoes cause you never know who out there would love to have the feet to even put shoes on.
jeri wrote: How wonderful you are! You never know a person's real story. Thanks for your sensitivity to realize that this dear man wanted to feel he was earning the money. That you acknowledged his existance may well have been one reason he was having a great day. It takes so little.
dizzy50dianne wrote: I felt as if I was there with you on this trek through the gardens and the encounter with the old "salty".

What a wonderful story. There are so many souls "out there" that ARE begging and tugging at your heart strings shamelessly, it's gut to see a fellow who staunchly refuses a handout. Unless he finds it himself. I guess he sees honor in that act. I do, too.
sabrina wrote: Absolutely true, most of us have better days than his good day but still we keep cribbing. Hope this story might make me realise for the better.Cheers
Nandi wrote: Dear Wayfarer,

That was very touching!
I must admire your ability and also that of your wife to see beyond the obvious!
You read him so correctly, he was having a good day!
Hats off to that man who could have such a great positive outlook that under such unfavourable circumstances he had the ability to 'enjoy' the day!!
Your ending line is profound!

Thanks a lot for sharing this story and reminding that we all should keep counting our blessings once in a while.
Love to u and your wife,
Nandi
myfbil wrote: Very moving. How kind of you to acknowledge the "old salt" and to leave some money for him to find. I'll bet both made him very happy! I wouldn't be surprised if he knows, and is pleased, that it was you who "lost" the money. You are a special person. Bless you! myfbil
cinnamonhead wrote: thanks for reminding us of the important things. great story.
OLIVER wrote: It happens all the time. He had been waiting for someone like you to come for so long that he had given up that there were nice people like you on planet earth..... he just could not believe that your act was real. He will be a changed man from that moment onwards. Keep it up and continue to be good. God so loved the world that He gave ...........!
jaydeebug wrote: Your stories always touch me! Bless you.
smilecards08 wrote: MMMM

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