TALLAHASSEE—he was homeless. Long beard, weathered skin. I was sitting in traffic. He walked between lines of vehicles at the stoplight. He carried a cardboard sign. I rolled down my window and handed him all the cash I had—which wasn’t much.

Maybe fifteen bucks.

He smelled like an open bottle. He stood at my window and said, “I don’t know you, but I love you.”

Those words. I’ve thought about them for days. I thought about them when I drove past an ambulance this morning.

Two cars looked like crushed Budweiser cans. Traffic backed up for a mile. EMTs loaded a stretcher.

One paramedic was hugging a child in the median. The kid squeezed him and cried his eyes out. The EMT squeezed back. I’ll bet they don’t teach that in EMT training.

Here’s another:

After my friend’s wife died, he adopted a cat. It didn’t take long before he’d spoiled the animal rotten. He bought toys, an outdoor pet bed, a food bowl, a collar.

The next morning, he woke to see three feral cats on his porch. So, he did what any self-respecting man would. He named them.

The following day, two more feral cats.
“I went from being lonely,” he said, “to being Doctor Freaking Doolittle. Cats just trust me.”

Last week, I met an old man who sat at the bar of a rundown beer joint. He was watching the band play. He was deaf. In a loud voice, he asked if he could buy me a beer. I accepted.

He told me he’d totally lost his hearing a few years ago. He woke up one morning and he was fully deaf. His life changed. It forced him to retire early. It’s been hard.

Last year, his nine-year-old granddaughter begged him to attend her school concert. He showed up with a sour attitude.

For the school’s final musical number, one hundred and twenty elementary students sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” using American Sign Language.

“My granddaughter,” said the old man, “she was the one who asked them to do that. They learned sign language JUST for me.”

Just for him.

Listen, chances are we’ve never met. And Lord knows, you probably don’t know me from Adam’s housecat—there’s no reason you would. But if you’ve read this far, you might as well know that I believe in something. I don’t know what it’s called, exactly, but I know it’s out there. And I know it’s good.

Maybe you don’t believe. Maybe your bank account is too overdrawn to believe. Maybe your wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father, or dog died. Maybe worse.

Maybe your alternator is busted. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you had an honest-to-goodness hug. Maybe you woke up feeling like hell.

Maybe you feel so alone that your world has gone silent and your ears don’t work.

You know who you are. And you know how you feel. But whoever you might be, you should know that a complete stranger stayed up late tonight, writing this for you. It’s not much, but it’s my way of saying: Don’t give up.

Because even though I don’t know you, I love you.

57 comments

  1. Cathi Russell - November 9, 2019 7:51 am

    Thank you Sean! Ditto.

    Reply
  2. Linda - November 9, 2019 8:06 am

    And I love you! You are real! It’s my fuel pump that’s busted, but it’s fixed now, thank God!!!

    Reply
  3. Tracy - November 9, 2019 8:11 am

    💗

    Reply
  4. Faye Elizabeth Gardner - November 9, 2019 9:50 am

    Hi Sean, I really needed to hear that so m.j done cares today. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Pete marovich - November 9, 2019 10:28 am

    Very good

    Reply
  6. Jean - November 9, 2019 11:27 am

    You are a wonderful human being and even tho, as you say we may never meet….I still love you!

    Reply
  7. Marilyn Ward Vance - November 9, 2019 11:31 am

    You got my tear ducts acting up this morning….thanks! They needed a good clearing out! I love you and Jamie, Sean!

    Reply
  8. Sharon Lawson - November 9, 2019 11:50 am

    Wow! Your words went straight to my heart and that is a good thing.

    Reply
  9. Meredith Smith - November 9, 2019 12:05 pm

    Sean and Jamie, Although I already know this about you, you really reached me with this column. Hugs 🤗 back to you. My Mantra is to Be Kind. I don’t have much but then again it doesn’t cost anything to Be Kind.

    Reply
  10. Wayne Vaughan - November 9, 2019 12:20 pm

    That was great Sean, so many homeless in America, the hidden poverty and downcast of society. Homeless of all races, but so many more that are White. America wishes to hide this, because it is not politically popular to draw attention to white poverty. It is great that you helped him, we have many homeless here in Fairbanks, Alaska.

    Reply
  11. Donna - November 9, 2019 12:32 pm

    Thank you for saying that. It means a lot!

    Reply
  12. Jennifer - November 9, 2019 12:41 pm

    Sean, you are for people, and it is making a difference in this world.

    Reply
  13. Carole Lea - November 9, 2019 12:45 pm

    Love you back, Sean!

    Reply
  14. Susan - November 9, 2019 12:53 pm

    Thank you for staying up so late! I could not do what you do day after day. But, thank God that you do it, because we need you and love you🥰

    Reply
  15. Elizabeth - November 9, 2019 12:55 pm

    Back at you!

    Reply
  16. Beverly Wynn Bua - November 9, 2019 1:12 pm

    “….doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat..”. Loveit❤️ I haven’t heard that expression since my sweet mama passed. She was born in Marianna, FL.. right up your way.. so your stories always reach my heart. I grew up South Florida but always have loved the area you wrote of so often.
    Another one Mama said was, “Great Caesar’s ghost!!she would exclaim! Never have figured that one out ☺️ PS I’m Episcopalian🙏🥂🤦‍♀️
    Thank you for bringing tears & smiles with every story I read……. Go ‘Noles

    Reply
  17. Jo Ann - November 9, 2019 1:17 pm

    I love you, too, Sean. Lots & lots of us love you. Your stories remind us that there are a great many good people out here & there.

    Reply
  18. Susie - November 9, 2019 1:20 pm

    ❤❤❤

    Reply
  19. Shelton A. - November 9, 2019 1:47 pm

    We love you, too, Sean. Everyday you open windows for me that let me see others helping or giving in some way. I can’t ask for more. Even though I don’t know you, I love you too.

    Reply
  20. Rebecca - November 9, 2019 1:50 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
  21. Jackye Thompson - November 9, 2019 1:51 pm

    I really liked your message today.God Bless you and Keep you.

    Reply
  22. Pat Morgan - November 9, 2019 1:59 pm

    Dear Sean, the world needs more people like you!

    Reply
  23. Jimmy Stewart - November 9, 2019 2:09 pm

    Thank you Sean!!! I only tear up and get a lump in my throat, now and then, but when I do, it’s often when I’m reading your blog. This morning’s offering had that effect.

    I’ll be in Fairhope tomorrow evening through Tuesday night if you want to hang out. The Alabama Baptist Convention will be in Daphne and I’ve rented an AirBNB on the bay for five pastors (including yours truly). While it’s obvious to me that you don’t need any source material, let me just say that hanging out with us for an hour or two would be a freakin bonanza!!!

    Four live in the Birmingham area and I live in Mississippi. Dinners on me and I’ll even spring for your favorite beverage! Just let me know, cuz, while I haven’t met you in person (yet), I definitely love you and the connection to every day people with everyday experiences I get in my inbox every morning and the all important reminder that people are the only thing that really matters, PERIOD

    Just have your agent contact my agent and we’ll go from there…228-233-9855

    Reply
  24. Deborah (Debbie) Gillespie - November 9, 2019 2:11 pm

    I hope you really know how much YOU are loved by so many you don’t know.

    Reply
  25. Edna B. - November 9, 2019 2:23 pm

    I think it is just awesome how you get to meet and mingle with so many different folks. I loved the story about the cat man and the one about the deaf fellow. Just goes to show, there are lots of wonderful folks out there. Sean, you have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  26. Sharon - November 9, 2019 2:52 pm

    Dang it Sean. I cried again. To quote the great Alabama, sometimes “there are angels among us.” Thank you.

    Reply
  27. Bobbie - November 9, 2019 2:56 pm

    Thank you again Sean for sharing your kindness and compassion with us. Indeed, good is out there…sometimes harder to find, but when you do, it warms your heart and makes your day, as you have made mine. ❤️ God bless you.

    Reply
  28. haileyhudson - November 9, 2019 3:02 pm

    Well this made me cry.

    Reply
  29. Lauren D Ulrich - November 9, 2019 3:04 pm

    I read a post by Richard Rohr (a Franciscan priest who runs something called the Center for Contemplation) and he’s been writing this week about quantum physics and the way that atoms–and everything else in the entire creation–have a force between them that interconnects all things. His contention is that it’s the same with people: we are connected to every other person on the planet. You just said the same thing, in plainer words.

    Reply
  30. Marge - November 9, 2019 3:11 pm

    I know you, through your words, enough to love you and thank you every day … for writing from your heart! I read every single day and laugh or cry ( as the words compel me to do) and my old ( almost 80) ) heart fills with love for the red headed, sweet, sweet man that you are!

    Reply
  31. Connie Havard Ryland - November 9, 2019 3:20 pm

    Once again, you brought a smile and tears. I’ve been fortunate to see you in person, and while I know you can’t possibly remember all the people you meet, I will forever remember meeting you and Jamie and consider myself blessed for the experience. Thank you for the love you share every day. You make my day.

    Reply
  32. Gloria Knight - November 9, 2019 3:27 pm

    Sean, If you’re seeking Human (& Christmas) Spirit, you should meet Todd Copper in Dunwoody GA. Todd was handicapped from a childhood accident but it has NEVER affected his spirit. For years he has been a bellringer for the Salvation army at Perimeter Mall. Last year a young punk stole the kettle from him, knowing Todd could not fend him off. People saw the story on the news & more came by to fill his new kettle. He sits in his wheelchair, bundled against the cold & never forgets to thank people. For several years he was champion bellringer around Atlanta. Next time you’re in ATL. look him up. Quite a story of Todd and his family who never gave up.

    Reply
  33. Jan - November 9, 2019 3:30 pm

    Beautiful, oh so beautiful! You have a beautiful heart and soul! I don’t know you but I love you!

    Reply
  34. Louise - November 9, 2019 3:31 pm

    I started reading your column about a month ago because a friend forwarded me her email. I loved that first one I read so much that I used it in a devotion for a women’s group in my church. Since then I’ve liked a lot of your other ones, and yes, some not so much. But today really struck a chord with me because I do believe in the extant goodness that exists in our world. I’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and my world has shifted exponentially, but the outpouring of love from complete strangers involved in my care has not only surprised me, but overwhelmed me in its “goodness”. I don’t know you Sean, but I love you. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to love one another in this complex world.

    Reply
  35. Linda Moon - November 9, 2019 3:41 pm

    It IS good. Because of cats whose names came from the Smoky Mountains. Because of really good hugs. Because of you, the kindness of strangers, and the few others who listen and tell life’s stories… it is good. I love you back!

    Reply
  36. Linda Moon - November 9, 2019 3:46 pm

    TO LOUISE: I know many survivors of breast cancer, including me, whose world got shifted. My “Angels”(UAB Angel Squad) will be sending prayers and love to you!

    Reply
  37. Sandy - November 9, 2019 4:00 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  38. Cathy W. - November 9, 2019 4:00 pm

    Your insight hits me right between the heartstrings..always what I need to hear.

    Reply
  39. Andy Gartman - November 9, 2019 4:09 pm

    I think you nailed it with the title. It’s called goodness, and I believe it’s inspired in human beings by God, whether they realize it or not.
    Your preacher buddy

    Reply
  40. Gordon - November 9, 2019 4:28 pm

    I love you too, Sean.

    Reply
  41. Dianna - November 9, 2019 5:30 pm

    Your words and kindness are an inspiration every day.

    Reply
  42. Ala Red Clay Girl - November 9, 2019 5:31 pm

    Thank you, Sean. This was beautiful! ❤

    Reply
  43. Steve Winfield - November 9, 2019 5:51 pm

    And there’s a whole bunch of us that love you back, just for being the guy you are. I’m out there in the world every day. I see lot’s of good, bad too. I try to say a prayer for them all & help when I can.
    Big hug from Shannon, Alabama.
    Happy Veterans Day weekend, too.
    Steve

    Reply
  44. Steve - November 9, 2019 6:01 pm

    Frame this one and put it on your wall. It’s a masterpiece. Your Mona Lisa.

    Reply
  45. Tim House - November 9, 2019 6:19 pm

    Thank you… 🙂

    Reply
  46. Pat - November 9, 2019 6:47 pm

    Sweet!

    Reply
  47. Jeanne Butler - November 9, 2019 7:08 pm

    Thank you Sean. I needed that today. My life is awful. Love you

    Reply
  48. grantburris - November 9, 2019 7:53 pm

    Well done, Sean. Good words. I love you too.

    Reply
  49. Annak - November 9, 2019 8:02 pm

    When you know just what someone, somewhere, needs to hear, and you know just the words to write, that is called having a gift. And we are blessed by your gift. Thank you for staying up late for us.

    Reply
  50. Rebecca Souders - November 9, 2019 8:57 pm

    Thanks. I read your column/blog almost every day; it never fails to make me feel better. Today’s was exceptional.

    Reply
  51. Hazel Barber - November 9, 2019 10:30 pm

    Sean, even though I don’t know you, I love you too!! I have 8 of your books and enjoyed each one. Thank you for looking at the world with your rose colored glasses and sharing that with us. We need so much more of this instead of the hatred that is spewed by so many. May God richly bless you!
    Hazel Barber.

    Reply
  52. Janice - November 10, 2019 12:43 am

    You are the best!!

    Reply
  53. emjaytexas - November 10, 2019 1:50 am

    That’s exactly my reaction to today’s post, Andy.

    Reply
  54. Steven Paul Bailey - November 11, 2019 3:04 am

    Beautiful

    Reply
  55. Linda Moon - November 11, 2019 5:54 pm

    TO LOUISE: I just emailed the membership of UAB Angel Squad to add you to our prayers. Sean Dietrich often reminds us of love and goodness in this challenging life. I hope you “feel” the love, goodness, and prayers we are sending your way!

    Reply
  56. Alan Wildes - November 13, 2019 1:22 am

    Pretty sure we were separated at birth. Let me know when you are coming to Atlanta. I’ll give you the details on where to and not to go.

    Reply
  57. lfry1220 - November 13, 2019 10:41 pm

    Even though I do not know you . . . I love you. You are the first part of my day and you start it with (as Debby Boone would sing) “you light up my life”. . . and you do. So thank you, Sean. Oh, and I do believe.

    Reply

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