Pensacola, Florida—downtown, early evening. He had a long beard and smelled awful. He sat on the sidewalk strumming a broken guitar.
A young girl stopped and asked, “Can I sing with you?”
The homeless man said, “What’cha got, honey?”
Without hesitation, the girl sang “This Little Light of Mine.”
This drew a crowd. A big one.
Afterward, the man hugged the girl, and her parents. He told her she reminded him of his own daughter.
Then he cried.
Folks filled his guitar case to the brim.
Forest Park, Georgia—a Burger King, a bad part of town. She wore a gray hotel-maid uniform, standing in line with her toddlers. She counted quarters and dimes on the counter.
Later, when she found a seat, a few teenagers asked the cashier. “Do y’all sell gift cards?”
“Yes,” the cashier said, “We have Crown Cards.”
They placed wads of twenties on the counter. “We’d like to buy a card for that woman, would you give it to her?”
Then, they left.
Mobile, Alabama—a man at the bar next to me had his face in his hands. His clothes were covered in paint. The bartender asked him what was wrong.
He said, “My wife’s car broke down. It’s our ONLY car, and my phone JUST DIED!”
His face busted wide open.
The bartender asked if he knew where the car had broken down.
“Yeah,” he said. “At my wife’s school, she’s a teacher. I just need someone to give me a ride.”
The bartender said, “I can do better than a ride, honey. My brother owns a towing company.”
She clocked out early.
This morning, I turned on my television. And I’m sorry I did. Because the America on my screen was not the place I know. On TV: rapes, suicides, stabbings, mushroom clouds, sex scandals, and senseless acts of politics.
Reporters in eight-hundred-dollar outfits talk about mass-murders while wearing half-smiles.
Listen, you have no reason to trust someone like me—I’m an average fool with a mortgage and a high-mileage truck. But so help me, this place is more than sex, drugs, politicians, and things you see on the evening news.
It’s single mothers, widowed fathers, and boys in wheelchairs, named Jackson—who still play basketball.
It is women who scrub hotel toilets. It’s teachers with busted radiators. It’s pipe-fitters, steel-workers, bartenders with hearts like watermelons, and beggars who miss their daughters.
We are amber waves of grain, and purple mountains. And we are no-kill animal-shelters, high-school football coaches who pray, rusted double-wides, and folks who sing together before baseball games.
Dammit. We’re the real thing, even though no evening-news film crew will ever point a blessed camera in our direction.
Which I thank God for.
Because that would ruin us.
Gayle Dawkins - January 28, 2017 3:54 pm
You spoke to my heart this morning Sean. Thank you for what you do.
Leon Salter - January 28, 2017 5:03 pm
I love the way you see through the clutter and shine the good, the bad and all the in between. We are all people and have problems. It just seems there are too many living on the edge where one little event can be catastrophic. We have to be more understanding reaching out to help those struggling.
Debbie - January 28, 2017 4:48 pm
Your writings each day warm my heart. Thank you.
Deborah - January 28, 2017 5:17 pm
Sean, I’m so thankful I found your website! You and I know the same people (of course they have different names and live in different towns). Your blog reminds me of why it’s so special to be Southern, and from Alabama.
Terry Grissom - January 28, 2017 5:37 pm
You have said what I have thought for a long time. I have enjoyed my friend’s recommendation of following you.
Maureen - January 28, 2017 6:52 pm
Thank you for the reminder – I have shared this
Brenda Laurence - January 28, 2017 9:16 pm
Wow. Just wow.
Carol DeLater - January 28, 2017 9:20 pm
Yes!!! THAT is the America I know and love. Full of people who care and don’t need or expect recognition for doing a good deed. It just comes natural to them. It only takes a small act of kindness that will spread like the water ripples from a stone thrown. One tiny deed plants the seed.
Judy - January 29, 2017 2:25 am
You speak to me too and I live way up North in the middle of Michigan–mostly farmers around here. Good honest people who will help a neighbor without having to be asked. No political posters in our front yard, because who we vote for is nobody’s business. 3 different denomination churches in our small town, and we all see each other on Sunday mornings and call out our friendly “Hellos,” because we don’t care what church you go to, we’re just glad you go. You should see our Memorial Day parades, more patriotism displayed than any big city parade. Yep. It’s glorious to live away from all the noise of nonsense.
Michelle Kibodeaux - January 29, 2017 4:47 am
How to do type a smile spread from ear to ear and eyes welled up with tears? You can’t, but that’s my face right now, sir. You are a blessing to me, I can’t thank God enough for you.
Rhoda - March 6, 2017 12:46 pm
What a gifted reality check…..now wheres those blasted tissues…I need coffie. The lady in the comment above said it perfectly so I copied it I hope she doesn’t mind too much…but like I said I need coffie…so I’m cheating a bit.
”Michelle Kibodeaux – January 29, 2017 4:47 am
How to do type a smile spread from ear to ear and eyes welled up with tears? You can’t, but that’s my face right now, sir. You are a blessing to me, I can’t thank God enough for you.”
Thanks Michelle for lending the very same words I may have written. Where are those darn tissues?
Melody Ann Dreading - March 6, 2017 3:31 pm
Amen, God Bless You.
Peggy Black - March 6, 2017 5:56 pm
Thank you for the reminder that life is what happens in the ordinary day of small, kind acts of human caring. The nightlynews is a blight on our bruised psyches.
Sandra - March 6, 2017 8:11 pm
Yessir! Quit watching the crap and start looking for the real life around you!
Dana - March 7, 2017 4:30 am
And that is the America I am trying to teach my grandchildren about. Thank you
Allyson Mottern Parden - September 15, 2017 3:02 am
I found you on Facebook. A friend of mine shares your stories every day. I start my mornings scrolling for your latest offering while drinking a perked-on-the-stove cup of coffee. I’m addicted now. I would much rather read your stories than watch the morning news. You are more satisfying, you speak more directly to my soul, and you paint a picture in a language that shoots like a ray of sunshine straight to my heart. Thank you for sharing these slices of a world I remember from childhood.
Charaleen Wright - March 26, 2019 3:18 am