It was the third day of a heat wave. I was going to visit a relative in the hospital. I had to make a stop. when I was on my way agains waiting four cars from a light, I saw a young man so sunburned his eyes were swollen/ He was holding up a sign….Homeless and hunger could you help me. So I rolled down the window as I passed by and give him a ten dollar bill and a handful of change. I was hoping he would find some peace and shade the rest of his day. As I drove away I wondered how someone can do that. I wondered if he experienced humiliation or maybe the shame or just maybe he was so dejected he didn’t feel anything. I wondered had he gotten used to the looks of discussed as others pass him by. I filled with tears thinking of so many who do this. So many I pass by because I don’t have cash on me often. I asked God to forgive me for all those I have passed by who I judged as addicts and lowlifes and wonder if this man’s story was different from the stereotypes manufactured by society standards and politics. Stereotypes that allow me to justify turning my head away pretending I did not see.
I continued on with my plan and traveled 58 miles down the highway. We decided to took the road less traveled to stop and get gas and ice coffee. We pulled away and about a quarter of a mile down the road, sitting on the side of the road, a man we often see who has a prosthetic leg just below the knee was on the ground. He was disheveled scooting slowly on his butt throwing his crutches out in front of him. We felt the need to stop and get out to see if he needed help. He told us his leg had been stolen and he was making his way back to his trailer just a few yards away. I asked him if he wanted us to help him stand and he said no no…it is easier to make my way on the ground. It is safer for me. So I wished him well and went on my way.
As the day went on I couldn’t stop wondering about these two men whose path I had crossed that day. I had allowed myself to look beyond the disdain and challenged the script that played out in my head.
I realized that we may have purposes and plans but if you are awake and aware because of God’s compassion our purpose and plans might include strangers and situations that cause us to stop and offer some form of action. We may not be able to change the whole world but we can make a difference each day for someone.