The Beggar inside Me: The Signs and Symbols


By Delbert H. Rhodes



 A brightly lit southern morning and I have completed shopping. While busied by my thoughts a ragged man calls to me in the store parking-lot. Wal-Mart is a great place to shop, they have everything I need and at wonderful prices. I left my job not too long ago and money now is tight.

“Excuse me, sir,” the man continues to impose while walking next to me. The poor guy appears as though he has not eaten in days. “Excuse me sir, but do you have a couple of dollars so I can buy some chicken?” he repeats while holding out his hand to me. The man’s eyes are sad and depressed, and other things I care not to observe seem to stare at me. I continue to walk though I make eye contact letting Mr. Give Me Two Dollars know that I see him; he keeps stride with me.

What is it with these types, do they actually believe, no, do they feel that everybody wearing decent clothing owes them something? By the way Mr. Beggar Man I too have issues. Oh, I get it, I have (just) left a store, my carriage is filled with food; and therefore, I should share my hard-earned goods with you…and anybody else looking for handouts! Continuing to move away and attempting to add more air space between us, I tell the beggar, “Sorry I cannot help you.”

I spy my waiting vehicle a few parking spots away. Though the man surely heard my words, still he remains at my side, and I increase pace to get away from him. Finally, the vagabond peels off and returns to his spot in the parking lot.

Okay, I privately scorn, all the man asked for is a couple of dollars to buy chicken. Naturally, the thinking is: he would use the money for DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. No dice buddy not this time. Money is hard to come by and I certainly have none to throw away. Still as I stroll to my car I look over my shoulder thinking I should surrender the chicken in my shopping basket. At least he would have something to eat.

No, this too I could not do.

The drive home and I continue to think of the beggar, maybe after putting away my stuff, I should return to the parking lot and give the guy the chicken. After-all, I could simply go inside the store and buy more. No big deal. This too I fail or refuse to do.

If I am correct about the man’s true intentions then why do I feel so terrible?

This incident occurred more than ten years ago and somehow I am able to hear the beggar’s voice and more importantly, his eyes continue to affect me. They were blood-red and glazed by some sort of hell that most of us have yet to know. Let us hope to never know. Even then I sensed something familiar something too close for comfort.

Though I never surrendered to the beggars’ pleas: still I frustrate over how I could have (possibly) left him to hunger?

Sometimes I see me in his dread.

We: all of us are subject to falling; we must struggle to be attentive to the signs and symbols, they call to us.

Do You Ignore the Signs?
Copyright © 2011 Delbert H. Rhodes

4 thoughts on “The Beggar inside Me: The Signs and Symbols

  1. Hi Terry; and thank you.

    “…why people so willingly open their doors to strangers. ” One of my poems, “Without Words,” discusses an event which occurred in my family years before my birth.

    My mother’s maternal great grandmother, Emma, who she loved dearly, was murdered by strangers; Mama Emma permitted these people to live in her home as family-though the neighbors constantly warned agaisnt it.

    The murderers left her dying on a roadside out near the beach. Yes, the many “…face dire consequences for following their heart.”

    Like it or not: life is filled with horrid ugliness; and we must cautiously walk the path until the walk is ended.

    Glad you are here my friend


  2. Hi Terry. Yes, safety in such situations is ever the concern; and though the man in my story never visibly threatened me, still, I felt uncomfortable about his presence; I felt “warning” signs about me and wanted to separate from him. The city in which I lived is a dangerous place and daily this type of occurrence leaves many dead.

    While I prepared to enter the city police academy (the previous year) the ex-wife of one of the department’s Lieutenants was accosted in a Wal-Mart parking lot, taken hostage for days, gang raped, forced to delete her banking account, and soon shot in the head on a roadside (not too far from my residence) and left dead.

    Yet another side of me felt sorry for the (simingly) poor man and ached to help him. The side of caution was the victor: in terms of “giving” but not regarding (perhaps) the whole truth; for all these years, still I think of him.

    Helping others: Yes, I have and many times. Guilt: Maybe; but sorrow seems to be the proper feeling.

    Though I did not help the beggar that day, possibly and though he would never know, I was helped (by him).

    Thank you for your wise counsel my friend.


    1. Hello Del,

      You followed your instincts and for that, you are alive and well. Who knows what would have happened if you had gotten involved. It is always best to err on the side of caution. You did well. It is difficult to know if a person is genuinely seeking help or setting you up for disaster.

      We live in an evil world, and what happened to that poor woman happens a lot. There are good people who want to help others, but many times the situation is turned against them. I still cannot understand why people so willingly open their doors to strangers. Too often you hear horror stories about people knocking on your door for help, and then the family is terrorized in many ways.

      It is sad that good people who want to assist others often face dire consequences for following their heart. “Warning signs” – as you have done, we must heed them. I am happy that you lived to become my friend.

      Peace to you.


  3. Hi Delbert,

    Too often this story plays out in our society, and many in need are ignored. Perhaps not intentionally, but when our refusal stays with us, it could possibly be the Lord pricking our hearts.

    I have always held this scripture within my heart – New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

    And this one – New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

    Not bragging, but long ago I took a homeless woman home with me. My co-workers thought I was crazy, and kept asking me, “Are you sure?” As a Christian, we must use wisdom in dealing with these types of situations, God does not expect us to put ourselves in harms way. This particular time though, I was sure within my soul that this was a test for me. It is a long story, but the short of it is, I would be hesitant these days doing that again. The days are much more evil than times past.

    I sought out this bag lady to take her to lunch on occasions, and tried to give her decent clothing. She refused to take more than what she could carry in her bag. I found out later that the police in the neighborhood knew her very well, Lorina was her name. Eventually, we met again, and she cursed me out because I would not take her home with me again. To make matters worst, I was in a store shopping with our minister’s wife at the time.

    I say all that to say this, in this day and time we have to be careful. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching in your pocket to help a stranger like the man you wrote about, then do a good deed elsewhere. Do a good deed where it is safe to do so, like donate food to a shelter or soup kitchen. Sure, in hard times it is difficult to feed others when you are barely feeding yourself. But I am one that believes that God does repay for both good and bad in this life.

    Don’t allow guilt to remain. There are many more people that can be helped. We cannot help them all, but our good deeds – God will reward. “Ignore the signs?” I am a very sensitive person, the signs are hard for me to ignore – and yet – I can only do but so much. I will feed a beggar somehow if it is safe to do so. But I won’t give cash. Many will beg for money to feed their demons, food – a chicken – is always best to give if possible. Life gives us lessons, when they stay with us – we learn.

    Forgive yourself.



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