I am a beggar. My clothes are torn up, ragged, and ripped. I cannot help the stenchthat hovers over my body. Everything about me is faded. Patterns that used to be bright and vibrant have drifted away into some mesh and collage of broken and grey. Dullness. The fabric is so thin that every fierce wind and even every gentle breeze pushes through the skin of my clothes and chills my every bone. On the top layer of cloth lies a film of dirt and oil that just won’t seem to wear away. Holes compliment my features nicely-my elbows and knees exposed to the elements. Shoes? What are they–a dream, only a dream. My skin has been this pasty mix of white and grey for as long as I can remember. My nails have always been blackened. My stomach has always been a good source and companion for conversation. It is never silent from all the hunger pains. The top of my head is covered in thick strips of oil and dirt laced between my coarse hair.
I am a beggar in search of bread. And yet, I can never find any. But someone gave me bread one day. I can not quite picture the face, but I know who it was. He is harder to recognize now because he once walked these streets just as I. He claims to have lived a beggar’s life. But nonetheless he gave me bread. Not just leftovers either–but hot, buttery, fresh from an oven; the best of the bakery bread. When he first gave it to me, it was hard to chew. It’s hot, almost too hot to go down. My mouth is overloaded with flavor and wonder, I don’t want to swallow for fear that I might never taste such beauty again. He watches as my stomach seems to jump up to my mouth to devour the bread. He smiles then asks, “Do you know of others who are hungry?” I immediately nodded my head. This bread would change the stomachs of so many. They must come and taste this bread-he must give it to them. I must tell others about this bread. I think to myself, wondering who I should bring. “Take a good look at yourself.” he spoke to me kindly. ‘Who better to be fed than those who are hungry?”
As I wandered along the pot-hole-filled streets, I saw many like myself. We have created our own population of broken civilization. At first glances I looked around at the trash can fires, seeing nothing but holey pants, toes sticking out of shoes, dusty and worn jackets, and matted hair framing sad, hungry faces and stomachs. I thought o myself, “They are as hungry as I was–maybe even hungrier.” I remembered the voice telling me to look at myself. Seeing that my dusty coat matched their own I inched toward the hungry crowd to tell them what I had found. Bread. “I know where you can find bread.” I sent them off to find the bread and the man and I went searching for more hungry stomachs. Some rushed off, others took their time before leaving, and still others doubted the bread was free or for them, others ignored me and never even went at all. But still, I kept searching the streets for my friends, for strangers, for those whose eyes were as tired as my own from searching.
Later, I went back to him again. When I found him I stood in his presence and felt ashamed at my filth. I asked him to make me more like himself–to make me clean. “I want to be new, to be clean.” I feebly uttered. He took off my heavy deteriorating coat-only to reveal a better, fresher jacket. Fewer holes, less dirt, and a little more color. It came to pass that each time I went back, he would take off the old and reveal something new. Even if I had worn through the coat he had given me before–each time he brought out something new, and bread. Hot, fresh bread. Strange enough, I saw my wardrobe and my stomach transforming to look strangely like his own. I bore his resemblance on myself. And I began to look around to see the others, bearing his resemblance. Their coats being exchanged for new.
I am a beggar. But I have been given bread. It is changing me, filling me, and restoring me.