We should never be ashamed to own
that we have been in the wrong,
which is but saying that we are wiser today than we were yesterday.
Thank you Mr. Pope, but I'm still ashamed to tell this story - I fear I'm no wiser than on the day it happened. But the image is fresh in my mind, a constant reminder that I get caught up in my own life and my needs too much... so focused inward or on my immediate circle that there are times my eyes don't really see, or at least do no more than see on the surface.
But here it is. My confession.
TG and I pulled into a parking lot adjacent to a Mexican food restaurant near campus; she was hungry, and as her mother, I wanted to feed her. It was also a good excuse to spend a little more time with her.
The lot was empty... obviously the restaurant wasn't open. I swerved toward the building to make a loop and head back to the road, and that's when I caught a glimpse of him - the man in the doorway.
He was curled on his side on the ground in the alcove of the restaurant's entrance. An empty wheelchair sat beside him as he slept.
At least I think he was sleeping. I hope he was sleeping. That's one of those questions that started nagging me the next day, along with that image... was he just asleep, passed out from drinking? What if he had been beaten up and left there? What if he was dead, or left for dead?
There are so many homeless persons wandering the streets downtown, asking for money, sometimes aggressively. Not long ago, a pedestrian was stabbed by a homeless person.
When I saw this man lying there, I'm ashamed to say my first thought wasn't to get out and help, to see if he was okay. No, it was to get the heck away, to protect my daughter, even though I didn't think about it in those terms. No thinking, just action. A flight instinct that I'm sure is very human, but one I still regret, even though I still don't believe it would have been wise to approach him on our own.
But instead of just heading to another restaurant, I should have done something for this man. I'm just not sure what, though. But I don't believe in coincidence, so it weighs on me that my path was led to that parking lot for a reason. And I get the feeling I blew it.
What bothers me the most is how easily the man slipped from my mind... until the next day. And now his image won't go away.
What could I have done? What would you have done? I want to be ready next time. At least I hope I get another chance.
On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"