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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

How easily you become annoyed in your city! Surely this is a man whose infirmities are obvious. He is blind – that is easy enough to test. Whether or not he has this fell disease you name AIDS may be hidden, but surely blindness should be sufficient.

Why, indeed, has God made this man to stand in your path each day as you go to your work? As the Scripture says, the poor are always with us. If his blind eyes seem to be upon you most particularly, should you not take it as a sign from the Lord? For who else directs the eyes – and steps – of the blind?

There is a simple enough purpose in all this. Like all Christians, you must be taught to give alms. The lesson may be hard or easy, but it does require one thing. It requires someone to receive those alms with thanksgiving and blessing for your name. Thus will you learn charity in this world and be blessed in the next.

You would pass the man by. You turn your eyes away from his unseeing orbs and walk swiftly. Is this wise? Does this not indeed harden your heart? Had God placed an army of beggars before you it might be different. You are correct; you cannot cure the hunger of the world. But our Lord has not placed an army in your path; only one beggar. When you turn away from him, do you not harden your heart? Do you not sear your conscience?

Indeed, I think you have much to learn of this beggar. Day by day he stands, bearing his supplication on silent paper. Surely you can see that by this method he is fed – and thus learn that persistence is a virtue. For if he is fed in his quiet persistence by the sinners who pass by, how much more will we be fed if we persist in beseeching the Lord of Heaven?

Your beggar dispenses yet another lesson to you. Does not his poverty test your wealth? At the least you should examine yourself and be grateful to God that you are not the one standing alone and blind. Do more than that. Consider that our heavenly Father provides for this man as he provides for you. No doubt you prefer your provision, but do ask yourself: of what true value is my wealth? Is it simply for my pleasure, or is some greater purpose to be achieved?

You tell me that AIDS is fatal. My young friend, life is fatal. This beggar gives you yet another lesson. He teaches you that your end will come too, and who knows which of you shall die first? Consider well the manner of your end, and commit your ways to God.

Taken in all, I think you are highly indebted to this beggar. He teaches you charity and persistence, breaks the hardness of your heart, tears you from the snares of wealth and helps bring you to a good end. Surely, for such services as he has rendered to you, you could spare the man a coin or two?

With my kindest regards,

Isaac the alchemist

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