One of my problems in traveling is to get in my usual morning run while staying in a downtown hotel.
But there was no problem today here in Buenos Aires, a city of some eight million people. We have been staying at the Plaza Hotel, in the heart of this “Paris of the Americas.”
Across the street from our hotel is a beautiful circular park, which must cover some five acres. It is one of more than 150 parks in this proud city of tile roofs, white-walled homes, wide boulevards, large fountains, and many statues.
So at daybreak I slipped on some green Keds, brown slacks, and a yellow jacket and began running around the broad sidewalk circling the park. The sidewalk, like many of them in Argentina, is of concrete marked off by small squares about two inches by two inches. Spreading over the walk are huge umbrella-like trees. Here and there in the park is a statue, and there is a lawn, plus an area for children to play.
In the shadows under a big tree, I noticed as I ran, was the figure of a tall man. He wore a rumpled gray coat and loose-fitting trousers. A faded green scarf was around his neck, and he wore a large, weather-beaten old cap. Beside him was a big, light blue plastic shopping bag.
In the man’s hand was a sheet of paper, on which was a large piece of yellow cake or bread.
I jogged around the park four times, and each time I passed the old gentleman in the shadows by the huge tree, I noticed that he would take a piece of the cake and put it in his mouth. Then he would take another piece, break it up, and scatter the bits before a group of pigeons gathering around him on the sloping park grass.
It was cold. It was winter in Buenos Aires. But there that silent man stood alone, sharing his breakfast with the park pigeons. No one seemed to see him but me. He did not seem concerned that he was unnoticed.
What a wonderful way to begin the day—quietly sharing.
Silently that old man in the rumpled clothes told me that each day could be happier if we were to start it with an act of sharing:
Phoning someone to tell him something good we have heard about him, or something of good report we have observed in a son or daughter.
Writing a letter to a missionary or serviceman who would not be expecting a message from us.
Gathering some flowers from the garden and placing them on the breakfast table to add extra cheer for the family’s morning meal.
Sharing our joys and our concerns, along with giving thanks, with Him who is truly our Heavenly Father—a sharing that should be part of every morning.
Sharing a choice experience or scripture with the family at breakfast.
Doing something unexpected for another member of the family or for a neighbor, such as polishing a brother’s shoes or picking a bowl of fresh strawberries, raspberries, or plums from our garden for someone else.
Writing a get-well note to someone we know.
Inviting a son or a daughter to take a morning walk with us, while the dew is still on the roses or the frost is still on the grass.
Sharing our breakfast with the pigeons in the park, like that tall man in rumpled clothes in the shadows of a spreading tree in a park in Buenos Aires.