Yesterday I watched a huge flight of geese winging their way south through one of those panoramic sunsets that color the entire sky for a few moments. I saw them as I leaned against the lion statue in front of the Chicago Art Institute, where I was watching the Christmas shoppers hurry along Michigan Avenue. When I lowered my gaze, I noticed that a bag lady, standing a few feet away, had also been watching the geese. Our eyes met and we smiled – silently acknowledging the fact that we had shared a marvelous sight, a symbol of the mystery of the struggle to survive. I overheard the lady talking to herself as she shuffled away. Her words, “God spoils me,” were startling.

Was the lady, this street derelict, being facetious? No. I believe the sight of the geese had shattered, however briefly, the harsh reality of her own struggle. I realized later that moments such as this one sustained her; it was the way she survived the indignity of the street. Her smile was real.

The sight of the geese was her Christmas present. It was proof God existed. It was all she needed.

I envy her.

~ by Fred Lloyd Cochran