On November 9th I fulfilled mission #20 by helping my friend, Fedor, fulfill his dream of doing a week-long Street Retreat (organized by Faithful Fools) in San Francisco. I spent the whole day, from 9am to 4pm on the streets, mostly in the Tenderloin, around the Civic Center, and in the Mission. I talked to homeless people, took a nap on a picnic bench in front a Hastings Law School building, and when I wasn’t bumping into Fedor on a couple of occasions, I sent him good energy as he wandered the streets with his daughter. Just before lunch, I also got it in my head to follow a homeless man who was screaming “murder” as he crossed a street by City Hall. Because one of my goals for the day had been to develop more compassion for those I normally pay little attention to, I wanted to follow him and send him good thoughts to help him, in my own small way, to relax and be less agitated. Just as I made this decision, I looked down and discovered what I thought was a grimy penny on the sidewalk. I had been looking for pennies all morning because the Street Retreat organizers had told us at the orientation at the beginning of the day that we were to collect pennies for some mysterious reason that would become clear later. I picked up the coin and discovered that it was a grimy dime, not a grimy penny. I quickly put the dime in my pocket and set off after the homeless man. I ended up following him all the way to Valencia Street in the Mission. After the original screaming that had gotten my attention, he screamed no more, but instead looked in many garbage cans though he never took anything out of them. On Valencia I decided to leave him and have some lunch.
After lunch, I thought I’d return to the Tenderloin and see what was happening there. On my way up Market Street, I could see a woman approaching me who seemed be asking people for something but I couldn’t at first hear what she was saying. When, however, she drew close enough, I heard her say that she was looking for a dime. She was asking: “Does anyone have a dime?” Of course, I had a dime, so I gave it to her. If I had returned to the Tenderloin any later or earlier, I would have missed her. I later wondered why on earth she needed a dime? Was she a time traveler from a land of 10 cent phone calls in things called phone booths? Anyway, I was happy I could accommodate her and for the wonderful grace and synchronicity of the event. The mystery of the penny was made clear by a dime.