Over several years when I’ve been back in Boston, I have often seen Michael around the Old State House, and we have a conversation every now and then. Usually squatted down on one knee and motionless, with his head down, he holds a retractable cane upright next to him, with an old cardboard sign attached. On the sign are written in black, capital letters, “SEEKING HUMAN KINDNESS”.
One day, I came up to him and he recognized me before even lifting his head, just by noticing my pants. Apparently corduroy pants went out of style a long time ago. We got to talking for a while, and the topic moved to kindness. He sounded discouraged because he said he just doesn’t seem to find much human kindness in his quest. People just don’t have the time for a conversation, he said. But I’ll tell you what I told him: I found a lot of kindness in him.
Anyway, after we parted ways, a thought occurred to me, so the next time I saw him, we had a chat, and I decided to share the thought I had. It was about making one small change to his sign. I said, “After we talked last time, a thought came to me about your sign, and I’d like to just throw it out there in case it means something for you. Can I?” He said, “Sure.” I said, “What if you just added a question mark to the end of your sign?”
He paused and thought about it. “I didn’t think of that before.”
I said, “You know, when I talk to you, I find kindness in you. Talking to you always gives a lift to me. And the people walking by, I don’t think they have kindness to give because they are looking for it themselves. I think it’s really the other way around: you have what they are looking for.”
I don’t know if he’s going to change the sign or not, but it doesn’t matter. Now you know.
I asked Michael if I could post this story and let people know that they can go and talk to him, and he was all for it. So, if you’re in Boston, feel free to stop by and see him. In daylight, he’s usually around State Street from the Custom House to the Old State House, and after dark he’s often inside the State Street T stop.
I think you’ll find human kindness.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (Jas 2:5)