Walking crisply through the nighttime lights in downtown Lexington, KY, my husband and I ducked into a pizza parlor seeking shelter from the winter winds and an alternative to our failed reservations at a fancy restaurant up the street. Undeterred by our excitement for the Trans- Siberian Orchestra concert awaiting us in about an hour, we grabbed the only table available, right by the door, to consume our carbs amidst shocks of icy air not even Oscar de la Renta’s wool could shield us from. As I am lifting a cheesy slab of goodness up to my mouth, a voice disturbs the ritual: “Would you like to buy one of my drawings?”
I’m sorry, what?
“Would you like to buy one of my drawings?”
I first look at the elementary scrawling of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and then up at her; a woman, probably in her late thirties, clearly homeless, standing to my left, proffering her penciled wares. “No thank you” has barely escaped my lips, when she grabs a napkin and begins to sketch. She looks back at me and says “Two dollars.” Overwhelmed by the awkwardness of this situation, I again tell her “no thank you”, hoping she will take the hint and go bother somebody else. Slightly disgruntled, she picks up her drawing and slips out the rear of the pizza parlor into the adjacent mall.
Oh the shame that rushed over me! This could have been a beautiful moment of humanity for her, and instead I treated her like a faceless nuisance. I could have very easily asked for her name and offered to buy her a slice of pizza…God, forgive me.
My husband and I finished our meal and headed to the concert, but I have never forgotten the homeless lady who draws.
Fast forward to last weekend, when on a crazed mission to procure a haupia-filled malasada created by Madame Donut of Donut Dynamite (the BEST donuts in existence), I wound up at Maalaea General Store hoping there were some STILL left. Fumbling to buckle my infant to my belly via ErgoBaby, a voice disturbs the ritual: “I’m sorry, but do you have any money to spare? You see, I’ve been out here for years, and…(etc. etc.)…do you have just a dollar? I can pay you back fifteen…”
Are you serious right now?!!! I am out here BY MYSELF handling A BABY in 90 degree weather UNARMED!!!! WHY???????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“ummmmmm sure, let me look.” I hope to God I have a dollar, no more no less, so I can relieve myself of this wildly uncomfortable circumstance. My heart sinks as only plastic turns up. Crap! Oh please don’t steal my wallet, please don’t murder my baby…As my mind cycles through scenarios landing me on tomorrow’s front page, I suddenly remember the homeless lady who draws, and I declare with as much confidence I can muster, “I would like to buy you lunch.”
“Oh wow, you mean have lunch like a dignified man?”
Yes, like a dignified man. I smile and motion for him to follow me into the restaurant. He asks me how old my baby is and I ask him for his name.
Scott. Oh Scott, how has life brought you here?
I meet the questioning eyes of the General Store staff with “I’m buying him lunch, and I would like some donuts.” (Thankfully, there is one malasada left…my journey has not been in vain!) The cashier keeps looking at me like do I need to call the cops for you? And I just smile and order an iced latte like it’s another day in the life. Scott wants a meatball sandwich with a side of fries and onion rings, as any genuinely hungry man would, and sits down at the counter. His meal will take half an hour to prepare (as it’s not quite lunch time), and I quietly thank God for giving me an exit. I tell Scott I have to go, but I hope he enjoys his meal and can taste just a bit of Jesus’ kindness. He nods, smiling, and I head back to my car perplexed, yet happy. This time, fear and selfishness lost.
If you have not read C.S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory, you must. It will reform your perspective of every human, and open your eyes to the glory that is within each one. I now believe that I have something unique to learn about God from everyone I meet, no matter what I think of them.
We are all made in God’s image, even those who have forgotten.