From time to time I travel to town from my new found country home.
On this particular Saturday it was Adam's turn to accompany dad on the forty-five minute drive -- a coveted pleasure. As we left he promised his two brothers, Tyler and Brandon, he would return with a bounty of candy they all would share.
After parking the truck I woke Adam telling him we had arrived. His sleepy brown eyes opened peering out the window. "Can we get candy, daddy?" "Yes, honey. We will get you candy. We need to walk down the street."
Adam, 7, is a curious boy who never lacks for questions. As we walked, he asked about the grand limestone church to our left. "What is that, daddy?" "It's a church, honey. That's the house of God. People go there to pray," I say, trying to avoid a lengthy religious question and answer session -- it didn't work.
"What do they pray for?" "Well, they ask Gods' forgiveness for sins and ask God to help people who are less fortunate. "What is less fortunate?" "A person who is less fortunate is someone who may not have a home, food, love or a job -- not being fortunate can mean many things, Adam."
"How does God help them? Does he give them food?" "I guess he could give them food but God tends to use other people to help hungry people. God once said, 'What you do for the least of them, you do for me.'" "What does that mean, daddy?"
"It means that when you help the poorest of people, you are actually helping God. Do you understand?" "Yes. Can we get candy now?" "Okay, honey. Just a few more blocks."
Adam, like his brothers, has a profound fondness of candy. I am sure that if Adam knew there was a candy treat on the other side of a mountain he would move the entire mountain, stone by stone, to retrieve the treat.
We walked another two blocks toward the drug store. Adam had fallen silent. I glanced at him as we walked -- his stare falling on something further down the street.
As we crossed to the next block I discovered the source of Adam's attention. He was looking at an old man begging by the store entrance. His gray sweater had numerous holes and pulls exposing a stained T-shirt. He sat with his back to the wall, his hands cupped around an empty hat. As we passed entering the store, Adam briefly stared.
"Can I have my dollar, daddy?" I pulled a dollar from my pocket handing it to Adam. "Thank you, daddy." Adam raced toward a barrel of suckers. He stared wide-eyed, gently touching the packaged treasures with a reverence only a child can harbor. His little hands trembled with excitement.
I kept Adam in sight as I picked up the few items I needed. We converged on the cashier at the same time. Adam placed his suckers on the counter. "That will be a dollar fifteen," said the clerk. Adam placed his dollar on the counter. "You need fifteen more cents." Adam looked to me. "Dad, do you have fifteen more cents?" I nodded yes.
We left the store and walked the few feet to the corner. While waiting for the light, I felt Adam gently slip his hand from mine. I turned watching him as he walked back to the beggar extending his priceless treasure.
"This is from God," Adam said softly.
The old man looked up at Adam. Through gray tired eyes he seemed to smile for an instant. He said nothing as Adam passed the suckers to his cupped shaking hands. Walking to Adam, I picked him up then paused. The beggar looked into Adam's eyes saying, "Thank you, Lord." "You're welcome," replied Adam.
I hugged Adam saying, "Daddy is very proud of you Adam. That was very thoughtful."
"It certainly was," confirmed a female voice to my right. I turned and watched a middle-aged woman place five dollars in the man's hat. "May I?" she asked as she leaned over to kiss Adam's cheek. I nodded and smiled -- Adam giggled.
"I did all right in my life. It could have been different." A dapper elderly man had knelt beside the beggar placing his hand on a shoulder of the tattered gray sweater. He set five dollars along with a business card in the old hat. "If you are able to work, call my number." The stylish gentleman struggled to stand as the middle-aged female helped him to his feet. "Thank you madam... thank you both," said the beggar faintly, his gray eyes welling with tears of gratitude.
We crossed with the others when the light changed.
"Look, daddy." Adam was looking over my shoulder to the man on the sidewalk. A small group of people had gathered around him placing money in his hat. I couldn't help but recall a thought from the Bible: A child shall lead them.
"Adam? You gave away your treats. What are we going to do now?" His lip started to quiver realizing he had nothing to share with his brothers. He buried his face in my neck. "I don't know," he said in a broken voice. "Well, perhaps I will buy you a cake. There will be lots to share."
He pushed away from my neck staring with brown, tear-filled eyes.
"Can we?" he asked, rubbing away the tears.
"Can we get writing on it?"
"Yes, Adam. It will read: Adam the Selfless."