This is my Five Minute Friday on Monday!
Rolling up to a stoplight I see her. A woman in dark winter clothes in the noontime heat of a 105 degree day. HOMELESS her cardboard sign says. I start to switch lanes to her side of the road, but the light turns green. My soul is pulled. I’m late for an appointment. Reaching her would require me to turn around. My heart says, “go back.” My head says, “go on.” I keep my foot pressing on the gas and tears fill my eyes. The petty grievances I was just worrying about fall away. My “wish list” for my home seems trite. How often do I compare my life to others who have “more than me” and neglect to consider those who have so much less. My life is blessed. Even on the days I feel less than, I have more than enough.
Part 2 From Later Today: She was still there! An hour after I first saw her, I drove toward home with a $20 bill resting just inside my purse. This was a small miracle since I never have cash, but for “some reason” I got $20 cash at the grocery store earlier this morning. Truthfully, I’ve never stopped to give someone something on the side of the road. I usually say a prayer for them and go on my way. But there was something about this woman…
As I approached the intersection I didn’t see her at first. She was hunched over her backpack, wiping the sweat that was pouring down her face. I drove a few yards past her and pulled onto the shoulder, momentarily wondering how this is done. Should I wave her over? Get out of the car? The protocol was definitely outside my comfort zone. I wonder now why it didn’t occur to me to plan out what I was going to say or do if she was there. Perhaps because I didn’t really think she’d still be there.
As it happened, I hopped out of the car and walked toward her before she even noticed I was there. I suppose she doesn’t get many visitors. “MAM?” I said. “I’m sorry. I saw you earlier and wasn’t able to stop. Here you go. God bless you.” I held out the folded $20 bill and she took it without looking at it. Her brown, weathered face stared at mine.
“God bless you,” she replied. And that was it. I got back into my car and drove away.
As I sit here now, I’m mad at myself for not saying more. Why didn’t I even ask her name? Tell her I would pray for her. Something.
Driving away, I looked into my rear view mirror. She was wiping something off her face with her hand. Was it tears? Sweat? I’ll never know. What I do know is that it felt good to pay attention to the still, small voice that told me to help. I pray it was enough to get her a meal and something cold to drink, but perhaps even more importantly I hope it was enough to give her hope. And I hope it was enough to snap me out of my funk and point me back on the path that matters.
Perhaps next time, I’ll be more prepared. Maybe I will stop right away and remember to ask her name. Lord, give me enough courage to follow through.