Monday, December 27, 2010

A Beggar’s Purse by Toni Nelson

I drove past a homeless man on the corner today. He held a sign that read, “Desperate, please help.” Instead of ignoring the man like I might have before I read A Beggar’s Purse by Toni Nelson, I looked at his face. I don’t know his name, but somebody does. Somebody is his mother, his son, his friend.

I like to think that I am a compassionate person, someone who is willing to help others, especially those in dire need. But I hesitate to hand money to a “street person” because of those who take advantage of the good-will of others to feed the addictions that have led them to where they are.

After reading A Beggar’s Purse, I have begun overcoming the stigma that I associate with the homeless.  This is a quick read, I finished it in about an hour.

Food to eat while reading: Hobo Waffles
When I started reading Nelson’s memoir, I prepared myself to bristle at being preached to. I relaxed when I found that Nelson has struggled with the same uncomfortable questions that I have when I see the homeless asking for money on a street corner-like why don’t they get a real job?

The book reads like a novel with insights from the author’s experiences growing up in a house by a railroad where traveling hobos were common guests for dinner. The anecdotes drew me into her story and made it easy for me to understand how she came to her conclusions.

I love that the author isn’t a full-time crusader who gives all of her time and energy to the needy. That may sound harsh and I admire those who may devote their lives to a cause. But the majority of us are plodding away in our own spheres. Nelson shows how we can include the less-fortunate in our daily lives, by simply being willing to smile and learn a person’s name or offer to give them a meal.

I wish I could say that I stopped and helped the man on the corner this morning. I didn’t have any way of giving him some food. I did resolve to purchase a McDonald’s gift card(a form of money that can only be spent on food) to have on hand. I will keep it in my purse and the next time I pass by the desperate who are in need, I will have something to give.

“Am I being used by the so-called street people, or am I being used by God? I believe the Bible refers to the term as being a servant.” A Beggar’s Purse by Toni Nelson (p.87)

Purchase: A Beggars Purse
Genre: memoir
Publisher: July 6th 2010 by Tate Publishing
Where I got the book: Goodreads Giveaway from Toni Nelson*

*I received only a copy of the book as compensation for my review.


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