My nephew, in lieu of a summer job, slings his guitar over his shoulder every morning and heads to Old Town, Virginia where he earns his keep as a street musician. His dad took that photo of him setting up, above. Yesterday, his mother called him as he was headed home on the bus. "Did you make a lot of money today," she asked him. He hesitated, then said, "I did something different today. I'll tell you about it later."
His mother was moved to tears. She said, "The next time I am complaining to you because there is a science experiment growing in the bathroom that he hasn't cleaned, please remind me that my son is a very good person."
The thing that strikes me most powerfully about his giving back was the way he acknowledged each of these men's humanity. He didn't just press a few dollars into their hands and leave. He bought them lunch and then sat and talked with them, and by the very act of spending time with them, asking about their lives, listening to them, he let them know they were valued.
He is 19 years old, this boy. But his soul is as old as the hills.