Anna & Salene

If you have love and wisdom to give, you are rich.

It was the end of long day, my last class having ended, and I was rushing to the subway station to catch the 5:30pm train back to Lowell. I saw a woman at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street selling flowers. She was an elderly woman, probably in her late 50’s, clutching in her hands a bunch of purple and white carnation flowers. With a sad look on her face, she approached me and mumbled a line she must have been mumbling over and over throughout the day to the people passing by. Though I didn’t have much time, I felt the need to stop.

So I stopped.

The woman tried to sell me her flowers but not having any cash, I offered to get her something to eat instead. Eagerly, she said yes and so with my one arm around her shoulder and my other hand pulling her suitcase, we walked down to the Dunkin Donuts right across my school.

“What is your name?” I asked.

“Anna,” she replied.

Anna went on mumbling about how she really wanted to visit her sister for Thanksgiving and some other things I couldn’t quite catch. After getting her two cinnamon bagels and a small cup of expresso, she handed me two of her carnation flowers as a thank you.

My heart was soaring. It was such a simple exchange but walking out Dunkin Donuts with the two flowers in my hand, I felt as though I had just received the most beautiful gift ever.

I was back to where I had started, walking down Massachusetts Avenue.  I saw another woman sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Tedeschi’s convenience store. I’ve passed by her a lot before and I always see her singing or animatedly engaging in conversation with passing college students or fellow homeless people. I stopped and handed her my two flowers without really thinking much about it. She gave me a big smile. I smiled back and was about to go on my way but she called me back.

“This is for you,” she said as she handed me one of the flowers I gave her.

Moved by her gesture, I bent down to give her a hug. She stood up, gave me a big hug back and we began talking. She told me her name was Salene.

Salene…Anna…I repeated in my head so I wouldn’t forget.

“My name’s Jireh, as in Jehovah Jireh.”

“Oh, I know Jehovah Jireh!” she responded enthusiastically. “I love that name.”

She then spoke about the things that were happening in the world like the Paris attacks, ISIS terrorism, hate, and fear — she concluded with these words:

“Love. We gotta love each other. That’s the purpose of our life on earth. I’ve lived 48 years now. I know what I’m talking about.”

Indeed. What a powerful thing love is and I was just experiencing that with a stranger and it felt magical! When another human being touches your soul, that moment stands out in the timeline of your life on earth. Such a simple interaction and yet I felt connected to the rest of humanity again. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of daily life that we forget the “why”. Why am I here? What is my purpose?  How easy it is to live in our own little bubbles, forget to think beyond ourselves, and focus our minds worrying about our own worries.

And then moments like these happen and I am reminded once again what truly matters.


Written on November 16, 2015



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Sunday. 04.20.14


I’m sitting outside Tago Jazz Cafe along Justice Lourdes Paredes San Diego Avenue, listening to the live music floating out through the open glass door; absorbing the night.  I see an old man walking around, aimlessly.  He talks himself, gesturing to the air as if he were speaking to an invisible companion.  I watch him silently; sometimes he looks my way but he does not engage me into his consciousness.  I strain my ears in attempt to catch his monologue, but I hear nothing that makes sense.  I wonder what kind of world his mind is lost in.  If I approached him and spoke to him, would I be trespassing across the transparent wall he has created between reality and the world his mind lives in?


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As I look into the children’s faces




The traffic light. 

I was five then,  coming home from school, sitting at the backseat of the car, waiting for the traffic light to turn green, and looking silently out the window.  There were children in the street wading through vehicles in the heat of the sun, begging from the people in their cars.  We passed by that area often and those children would be there always.

It was common sight to see them in the streets.  It was as if that was where they belonged.   The street was their home, their place of ‘work’, their playground, their eating place, their sleeping place. 

Barefoot and dressed in rags, they would knock on the windows with their grubby hands and peer them with their small faces.  Some would stare at you straight and make their faces look pitiful.   Others faces would be simply blank, devoid of any light.


The people in their cars would hardly even turn their heads.

It was as if nothing was there. 

 It was hard for me then to imagine how it was for children, just about my age, some even younger, to be begging everyday on the streets.  I had been raised with everything a child could ever need.  And so it made me sad to see children like me who hardly had anything at all. 

They had no home to go to, no mother or father to care for them, no education, no decent clothes to wear, and not enough food to eat.  They didn’t even have slippers to protect their tiny feet as they went about the dirty rough roads. 

A young boy

carrying a little girl on his back.

He approached our car one day as we were going home.  He tapped our window and peered through.  I turned my head and looked at his face for moment, but my eyes quickly turned away.  I couldn’t look at him, because what I saw in his eyes was suffering and sadness,

far more than what I could have understood.  

What  I saw in those eyes look back at me every so often. I see them in the face of the old beggar lying on the sidewalk, on the face of the young mother clutching her child by the steps of a bridge, and on the faces of abandoned children and those begging on the streets.  I wanted so badly to clothe and feed them, to care for them.  I wanted them to have what the world had deprived them of. 

Though so young, their little bodies and souls have already gone through much of life’s hardships and pain. 

I see it 

in their faces.

Faces in the roads, in the streets, on the sidewalk, under the bridge, in the squatter homes. Everywhere.









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