Tuesday, October 1, 2013

True Story: Friday Flashback, the Face of God, and helping your neighbor (for real)

You know how we all have moments where something seemingly small touches us in a huge way? I had one of those moments Friday afternoon around 5:30, when I was finally able to leave my office for the weekend.(And here I am writing this on Tuesday and wishing for that moment again!)

Oh, but there's more to the story...

I was speed walking to the parking garage, eyes straight ahead, focus solely on getting out of traffic ASAP so I could hang out with C-man. I admit I was a little angry I was at work kind of late on a Friday, but I guess that's the best you can hope for when you take two sick days in a week.

Let's say first of all, I should have been paying better attention to my surroundings; I work in Baltimore City, the Westside. It's in no way the worst part of the Baltimore, but it isn't the prettiest. On my walk between my office and Starbucks that particular morning, I passed two men who were tripping - at 9am- on whatever drug it is that makes you droop your head and neck down towards the sidewalk as if you were slowly falling into the sidewalk face-first. I did not think anything of this because I see people tripping like this every single day near my office, I kid you not. (BTW anyone know what drug this is? There seems to be a lot of it near my place of employment.)

There are a lot of other things I see during this walk that scare the heck out of me, some that make me cry and some that make me laugh out loud on a street full of strangers and then proceed to take photos/videos with my phone and text them to friends. (Subscribe to my blog and I promise you that one day I'll post a video of the woman that shows up in front of the Rite Aid every single day with a different costume and a boombox blasting Christian music that she dances to beautifully and expressively amongst the mayhem of bad things going on around her; girl is spreading the good news!)

But these things surprise me so because I'm a white girl from Pennsylvania and this Baltimore City stuff is still new to me...

So anyway back to Friday afternoon:  A couple walking towards me stops after we pass each other. They stop because there is a man laying on the sidewalk, eyes closed, right next to the light rail track (train.) He was just a few feet from me, and I had walked right past him! Had I seen him and thought nothing of it because I see people laying on sidewalks on Howard Street fairly often? Or had I actually not seen him? I couldn't remember...How long had he been there? How come no one has stopped except for this couple; it's Friday afternoon and this street is crowded and bustling with people!

The woman bends down to see if he is okay and sort of slaps him on his face.I am shocked because the man is not someone I think I would've bent down for. I hate to write that there like that. But really, I wouldn't have. Everything about him is dirty - his face is dirty, his hair, his clothing is ripped; he has a scent. I would have kicked him with my shoe first because he's probably a drug addict, because he might have gun, because he might snap at me for scaring him or waking him up from his nap, because he looks dazed and there's no telling what he could do...But no, here's this little lady bending down to look in his face and yelling "Sir!" loudly in his ear, addressing him politely like you are supposed to address another human being.

She gives him a shaking to see if he will wake up, and finally he shows one sign of life; he blinks, and then goes back to sleep. I ask her if we should call 9-1-1 and see she already has her phone out.

She shoes me on as if to say "I got this" and I believe her. I get into my car feeling a little bit refreshed, like I just saw God at work right then and there on a Friday afternoon on Howard Street. Maybe I am being emotional and over-interpreting here; maybe I needed to see something like this. But here's this man that is on the margins of society; here's this man who, one could argue, chose to lay on the train tracks in some form or another, through choosing drugs or alcohol or whatever makes people do these things; here's this man who (I know I am assuming here) has received help from someone before and fallen into a pattern of addiction again and again.

And despite assuming all that (I'm guessing you'd assume this too if you saw this guy), this couple stops and helps him. It's helping in a way that is so concrete that I am floored. (Ironic, too that I work at a humanitarian aide agency and we use the phrase "loving our neighbors" on all our fundraising materials when we ask people to "help the poor"?)  I don't suggest that my surprise says a lot about our world at large, but maybe more about my own demeanor as an urbanite who has grown numb to seeing despair and utterly confused about how to address it.

So I get into my car and drive around the block, back towards home and I see an ambulance on the street where the man was and I see the couple still there, waiting on the sidewalk, as if they knew this man and wanted to make sure he was okay. I wondered, who else would this man have waiting for him when he gets better? Maybe nobody. But God would definitely be there...

Yep, I think I just saw Him at work!

What's your seeing-God-or your higher power in real life story?

Don't have one? Find one. I know you can.

And if you have a blog, let's link up sometime and write about it together on a designated day of the week...Wouldn't that be great soul food?

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of a "seeing God in real life" link up! I can't totally related to this Caitlin, I work in Baltimore too, and am sad to say that I also feel like I have become numb to the "people on the street"


Thanks for reading! It's great to hear your thoughts. Peace!