He is dirty and frail, and has seen better days.
Hair unkept and skin like leather.
The light turns green and cars move forward.
Then yellow...then red.
Stop, next to him.
Not a dime in my wallet, nothing to give, I avoid his stare.
Looking ahead, not to the side.
Eyes forward, face stoic, focus on the task ahead.
Get there on time.
A moment to be vulnerable, to roll down the window.
To ask: "how are you today?"
Too embarrassed, I pretend to be distracted by my thoughts.
Knowing in my peripheral, I see him
Knowing in his peripheral, he sees me.
The light turns green, and off we go.
Forgotten for another day.
Those are the moments I am ashamed to admit to you. These are the times, I am less than Christian. In that moment, I avoid awareness of what it means to be faithful.
For, to be Christian is to see.
To notice those around you and pay attention to who they are. To recognize every person is a child of God, deserving to be spoken to, deserving to be acknowledged. Instead, I avoid eye contact, too embarrassed to explain I had nothing to offer but a smile.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a difficult one to hear, because all of us at some time or another have not paid attention to the plight of the poor and needy around us. We may have seen it with our eyes, but have we seen it with our hearts? Have we asked what it is like to be in their shoes? Have we wondered what is going through their head? Have we imagined that their path to becoming who they are today could have easily been my journey too? Do we see and feel enough to move us to action?
Everyday, the rich man sees Lazarus at the gate and ignores him. He sees his hunger and his illness and turns a blind eye. His heart is hardened to Lazarus' pain. Until the rich man ends up in an eternal place of deep anguish himself. Then he starts to see what this kind of pain is about.
What will it take for us to see and respond to the pain around us? How would we change if we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and put ourselves in another's shoes. Before we make assumptions based on our preconcieved notions, could we roll down the window and ask "how are you today?" Would we be courageous enough to really look at the life of the "poor" and see them for who they really are: a precious child of God?
God be with us all,