She was sitting on the brick wall, about 50 feet away. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of her – surrounded by other teens who had traveled to the service project site with us, yet completely alone. Absolutely no one was talking or even trying to connect with her. I’m sure there were many reasons for this; it can be really scary and uncomfortable to reach out when you are young and have never done anything like that before.
I watched for a few moments and it was like I was drawn by God to get up and go speak to her.
The leader of the project explained that she was homeless and moved on to the rest of the tasks for the afternoon.
But, there was just something about her…
that was drawing me to where she was sitting.
It was really hot and she was in the only shady spot near the street. So, with no certainty of how this was going to go, I walked up with the only thing I had to offer – a cold bottle of water.
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’”
Matthew 25:45 MSG
I can remember not that long ago, I would have been so afraid to walk over to her, and truthfully, I may not even have noticed that she was sharing space with me. That really saddens me – and it needs to change!
I walked up to her and asked if she would like a bottle of water. She had one, but on a day like today, I was certain it was probably warm and she accepted my offer.
Her name…I’ll leave out, but I pray that I remember it and her when I go home. She was going to be turning 80 next week. Her face beamed when I told her she didn’t look a day over 50 – and she really didn’t. I asked her for her secret. She quickly informed me that it wasn’t any of that expensive stuff that she was sure I used…(she was right). Her secret was “just plain old zest soap and V05 shampoo.” She likes to read mystery novels, as do I. She showed me what she was reading and I shared some of my favorites with her. She was from a family of 21 children. (Yes, you read that right and I was thinking the same thing!). She had a 2 year old granddaughter-“who loves books and the library just as much as her grandmother.”
The conversation was so easy and we chatted away the last part of my service time in Kansas City that day. She didn’t want her picture taken, so I pray God would never let me forget the beauty that He showed me through her eyes.
I’m not sure if her time with me changed anything about her day with a cold bottle of water and some conversation today…but I know one thing beyond the shadow of a doubt.
She certainly impacted mine.
I’ve been blessed…
by an encounter
that was in reality compassion disguised as a cold bottle of water.