12 Pearls of Christmas Day 11 ~ With Robin Dance

Welcome to
the 12 Pearls of

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's
(Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and
more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt
stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

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The Panhandler's Breath

By Robin Dance

He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors, as if he were late to a
meeting; he pressed the "5" without looking. Instead of suit and tie, though, baggy pants
and faded navy hung on his tall, slim frame...and his stealth entry stiffened the hairs on
the back of my neck.

I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had parted a sea of clamorous teens.
He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe 30 feet away where the electric shuttle
picks up.

I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator patiently awaiting his next

The four of us were sealed in a four- by six-foot metal tomb. Tomb--that thought really
scampered across my mind. I wondered if he had a knife in his pocket. I wanted to
protect my son. Fight or flight pumped adrenaline but there was no where to run.

Extreme and ridiculous, these thoughts - and more - flashed through my mind. The
Stranger began speaking.

"Yessir, I see you're a family man with your wife and your son here..." and he nodded in
my and my son’s direction.

"...you see I'm homeless and all I've got..." and on queue, he reached into his left pocket
and pulled out two old pennies blackened with age. Two cents to his name?! It was all too
contrived, too practiced, and I didn't believe a word he was saying.

It was then I smelled it ~ the small space lent itself to that ~ and I doubted my doubt.

His breath.

It wasn't the scent of alcohol. His eyes weren't red, his voice didn't waver; his wizened
face matched his graying hair.

His breath was morning's, zoo breath, the pet name I'd given to the scent inhaled when
kissing my children awake when they were little.

He needed to brush his teeth. I wondered how long it had been since he brushed his

The elevator door opened and I handed him my leftover pizza as my son and I brushed
past him. My husband handed him a bill and the Stranger thanked and God blessed

The elevator door closed behind us. Conflicted, I was relieved.

We got in the car and blurted first reaction--

"I didn't believe a word he said."

"That made me nervous."

"I wonder if he'll really eat the pizza."

In the quiet, we were left to our own thoughts, contemplating the right thing to do. At the
end of the day, this is what I decided: It doesn't matter whether or not his story is true; for
an old man to resort to begging, he has to be desperate. The money my husband gave him
will never be missed. It was a reminder we've been entrusted with much and given much.

Materially, yes, but more so spiritually. Loved, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, graced,
lavished--every spiritual blessing. E v e r y.

There's a part of me that wishes I would have been brave enough to ask the man
his story, made sure he knew he was loved...and bought him a tooth brush.

Later, it occurred to me he could have been an angel. Doesn’t that mean generosity,
kindness and hospitality is always the right response? Then it's not about you or the
stranger or the circumstance, it's about a simple, God-glorifying response.

Had we entertained an angel unaware? We'll never know.

But it wouldn't be the first time the Breath of Heaven smelled like a zoo.

In a decades-old, scandalous affair with her husband, Robin also confesses mad
crushes on her three teens. As Southern as sugar-shocked tea, she’s a recovering people
pleaser who advocates talking to strangers. A memoirist, Compassion International
Blogger, and Maker-upper of words, Robin writes for her own site,
PENSIEVE, and also for (in)courage by
DaySpring (a subsidiary of Hallmark) and Simple Mom. She loves to get to know
readers through their blog comments and on Twitter and Pinterest. www.pensieve.me

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