Yesterday, as I was leaving work, there was a woman sitting on the stairs leading up to the street. I said hello and gave a standard, "how's it going?"
She was obviously homeless, but in a Marin County, CA kind of way. She was in a bright pink workout shirt and workout leggings. She was finishing up a small cup of yogurt. And her backpack was pretty nice. She didn't have all the accumulation of stuff someone surviving on the streets usually has. But it was obvious. She was missing her to front teeth, wasn't very clean, and seemed quite distressed or at least down, which matched her answer to me...
"not very good."
You can't walk past that.
I stopped, asked what was wrong and as I tried to assess her condition, asked further questions about her situation.
She had some bruises and cuts. When I asked about them, she said a large man had stolen her bike. Forced it from her in a rough way.
I asked if there was anything I could do to help and made a few suggestions. I was unsure of what to do, really. It is a big problem.
She told me she would love a drink. So I invited her to come with me to the gas station next door and I bought a tin of altoids for me and the drink of her choice... A red bull. She asked if that was ok.. I said it was.
Then, I wished her luck and we parted ways, with me feeling pretty good about myself.
As I got into my car to commute home, I smiled and thought, "good job. That's something Christ would have done." It may not have been much, but I showed compassion.
Then a still small voice said to me, "what was her name?"
I didn't know. And I hadn't asked. Nor had I offered mine to her.
I hadn't even given her the dignity of being a real person. She was something to feel good about, a problem to solve.
I felt great sorrow as I drove, realizing that Christ would have asked for her name.
This is the world. We do good deeds without often giving dignity to others. We create systems that remove us from what is most important and critical to serving others... Them. We remove the names and call it welfare or Medicaid or whatever else.
I wish I had asked for her name and shared myself with her and not just my money.
I wish I knew her name.