One blistering cold afternoon I was filling up my gas tank in my warm coat, shoes, gloves, socks and pants.
As I was completing my transaction, a young man approached me and asked if I was in a hurry. Without hesitation I said yes, but asked them what they needed.
“My girlfriend and I need a ride home. We walked down here to get lunch, but it is too cold to walk back now. Could you give us a ride?”
Shivering without a coat, hat or gloves, he was expecting rejection. His girlfriend was standing there exhausted, longing to get back to her apartment. Saying yes, a look of surprised relief on their faces. With a smile I dropped them off at their apartment. I could see how their countenance shifted from despair to relief.
This young man and his girlfriend without a car, little income, tattered clothing reminded me that I already had enough standing at the gas pump bundled up. Another scarf, pair of gloves or jacket was not helping me or anyone else in my closet In a way, I was preventing someone else from experiencing warmth on that cold winter day.
After getting home and sharing this encounter with my wife she got up and grabbed her late grandmother’s coat, “She would’t want me to just hold on to it, someone else could use this.” I spent the next half hour pulling out the extra scarfs, gloves, hats, jackets, sweaters, bedding, and blankets we were storing. Anything that had not been used in the past three months was placed in the donate box.
Take a moment and think about any extra item that you have in your home. Why is it not being worn or used? Is is broken with pieces that could be recycled? Is it a coat that you do not care to wear? Could a newly settled refugee family use those extra pots and pans you have sitting in your cabinet? These are questions I asked myself the year of 2017 and after the encounter I had with this young couple. The answers helped me find the items in my home that I would actually use and re-purpose those that I did not need.
Simplicity is a pathway to generosity and gratitude. Coming to the conclusion of what enough meant for me helped me see how those extra might need later items could be put to use by someone now.