It was an early Saturday morning. I climbed into the back of the minivan and grabbed the last seat available. Destination: downtown Phoenix. To an area where the homeless live on the streets.
Several of the teenagers at church gathered together to spread some Christmas cheer. I decided to tag along. Take the opportunity to serve others who have found hard times.
Donuts and hot chocolate for all.
I settled in for the 30 minute drive. And noticed the little boy next to me clutching some items in his lap.
Four shiny silver bells tied with festive red ribbons. And a book.
“What do you have there?” I said. Interested in this youngster’s thoughts about the upcoming event.
He held up the jingle bells.
“These are for the people,” he said. “I think it will make them happy. I’m also giving them my favorite blue jacket to keep warm. It’s really soft.”
I pointed to the book.
“These are my old scriptures. I just got baptized and got some new ones, so I want to find somebody who needs them.”
Tears filled my eyes. A lump forming in my throat.
Eight-year-old Dawson. A little boy with a big smile and an even bigger heart.
He continued. “These people don’t have a home like I do. They don’t have jobs or money so they can’t buy a house.”
His young, inexperienced mind seemed to understand the situation. Concerned that they were struggling. He knew they were cold. Told me he loved his soft blue jacket. But understood they needed it more.
Our vans and trucks pulled up to the curb. The youth jumped out and began to serve. Inviting all to come eat. A hot drink to warm their troubles.
The people were grateful. They recognized that we were trying to help. Problems too big for us to solve, but certain we could love. Let them know we cared.
Something He would do.
I watched as the youth quietly spoke to their new friends. Wished them a Merry Christmas. No judgment. Just love.
And then I remembered. My eyes darted back and forth. Looking for a bright little light. A little boy filled with purpose and determination.
All supplies were handed out. Just one more thing.
I found him handing his prized possession to a man. Then a woman. Politely turned down. Again and again.
Dawson seemed undeterred.
His father gently explained. “These people have to carry all their belongings. They need food, water, and clothes. They have to carry everything to help them live.”
Dawson thought for a moment. With all the sincerity of a tender child he looked up at his dad. Eyes wide with conviction.
“This will help them live.”
Truth. Light. And hope.
As adults we see things with worldly eyes. The realities and difficulties of life stain our vision. But little children see the world with spiritual eyes. They speak from the heart. And feel with their soul.
Eventually Dawson’s gift found a new home. A man who felt the spirit of this little one. Accepting the book of scripture.
We piled back into the cars to leave. Grateful for the experience. Humbled at the scene.
Christmas carols played on the radio. Filling the air with melodies as we headed up north.
Jolly lyrics celebrating holiday presents, bows, sparkling lights, and visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads.
Not in this place.
I hadn’t seen a single ornament. No packages tied up with string. Not a single Christmas tree or stocking hung.
But I did catch a glimpse. A glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas.
Visions of donuts and hot drinks. Visions of jingle bells and jackets.
And one little boy’s belief that words in a book can bring true joy to the heart.
I’ll forever remember the vision.
Of Dawson’s gift.