I’d like to share a strange encounter with you, an opportunity, an awakening, a call for help.
A very dear friend of mine suffered a major heart attack the day after Christmas. I had been praying for him all night.
Here in Rhode Island, it had been snowing all night and after digging my car out in the freezing air, I headed to my healing center to check the mail. The roads were treacherous and I was amazed to see a woman in a motorized wheel chair trying to make her way down the street. There was little traffic and I saw her turn and face the car in front of me when we stopped for the light. I couldn’t tell what she was saying, but I knew she was distressed and seemed to crumple in her seat when the light changed and the car moved on. I slowed and rolled down my window. When I asked if I could help her, she started to cry and told me she was homeless and was trying to get enough money for a motel room or somewhere she could go to get warmed up. She pulled up her thin cotton skirt showing me her legs, mottled purple, red and white. I pulled over to the side of the road and asked how I could help. I offered to take her to my apartment…but we could not get the heavy wheel chair into my van, and she did not have enough electricity left to make it up the hill. She said she had enough charge left to get to the bus station and if she had the fare they would take her, with her wheel chair, to a Day’s Inn in Seekonk that would let her warm up and recharge her chair. She said most places would not let her stay because of her odor of urine. I gladly gave her all the money I had with me, $21.00 and a handful of change. Please, I said, this is so little, is there anyone I can call for you? No, she said, I’m alone, but you can pray for me. She asked my name and I said Linda. She grasped my hands in hers and said, Linda, I too will pray for you and your prayers will be answered. Just then my cell phone rang and she dropped my hands. I answered it to the news that my friend had made it through the night and was conscious and speaking. When I turned back to the woman she was gone.
So many things were running through my head. I was relieved for my friend and happy for myself, but so sad for this woman. Where did she go? It’s true I had done more than some would have, but I knew it wasn’t enough. I vowed many years ago that when presented with an opportunity to help others I would accept it. I had just met the face of homelessness and now could not ignore it.
In one of the most prosperous countries in the world, should anyone be without shelter, food or water to bathe in? How can this be? Is it not an injustice to turn our backs on people in need? For whatever reason, whatever wrong choice, whatever circumstances, this woman and others have been brought to a daily struggle for survival. Do we really understand how blessed we are to be without want for the necessities of life? How often do we give thanks for a hot morning shower, food that fills our belly, or a warm bed to sleep in?
This encounter with a homeless angel awakened me to the plight of over 750,000 homeless people in this country. I have vowed to never judge another by their appearance or their request for money and to give as generously as I can…for it may be an angel standing before me.