So last week I spent some time with my friend Tara in Cincinnati. We went out for a girls night. Nothing over the top just dinner and a drink. She has told me a few times about the homeless people there and how sometimes they ask for food if you are carrying left overs from a restaurant. She also told me she often does this because you know they are legit if they ask for your food. What harm can giving them something to eat do.
So we finished up our outdoor dinner and headed over a few doors to a martini bar, which seems to be all the rage in Cincinnati. As we were walking out I noticed a homeless woman sleeping up right on a bench. I should note that we were in a square that was like a park with out grass. So the businesses looked out onto an area with a fountain and some trees. Think Bryant Park if you know Manhattan, but smaller. So I am guessing this is a safe place for her to sleep.
Now my heart sank I noticed and thought what could I do for her? I was immediately wrapped up in guilt because I had just over indulged in a dinner out and was on my way to have a good time. I felt guilty for what I had and how I was choosing to use my resources. Did I mention that Tara is the Catholic one in this relationship? Yep but I was getting my Catholic caliber guilt on. So we walked on had a drink and then started heading home. Eventually I pushed the sleeping woman out of my head and let myself enjoy my time with Tara. I do not get time with Tara nearly enough, after all. So we drank our drinks and started heading back to her apartment, our route would take us past sleeping homeless lady again.
As we approached another person came walking up who at first I thought was a child but turns out she was a woman. I thought she was going to sit with the other homeless lady. I had to walk past her and I felt my body tense and I went into automatic NYC mode put my head down and took brisk steps because she was yelling something. I was a few steps past when Tara was gone because she had heard what this homeless, woman who was a little off was saying. This human being, this loved child of God was saying, "Ma'am can I have your food?" Tara didn't skip a beat and handed over her take out box. I would have but I didn't have one. I let those left over french fries go to waste. I wasted food with out thinking twice about it. Not the norm for me if I am home but I guess being out I didn't think of it.
So this of course led me on a theological excursion of sorts with a parallel journey of self exploration. First why didn't I hear this child of God? Simply because I chose not to. OUCH!!! Why was my reaction what it was, head down quick steps? Was it my up bringing? Was it instinct? If you know me you know that I would fight for this woman's cause in a heart beat, but I didn't. Dare I say that maybe I was talking the talk and not walking the walk. OUCH, Again! So maybe I need to overcome what ever it is that stopped me and pray that God would allow me to hear the words of all his children. My actions that night really treated that woman like she wasn't human or worthy of being heard. OH OUCH again! God Forgive Me! I failed in those moments to live like Jesus. Noted God and changing.
My next question is this who was Jesus in this moment? First I must say I really saw Jesus in Tara in that moment. Her faith shined through. She was certainly acting from a place of God's love. I think she reacted exactly how Jesus would have reacted if he saw a hungry homeless woman who wanted his left over take out box. So Tara if you read this, I saw Jesus in you in that moment.
Hold up though, there is the pesky scripture about, when I was hungry you didn't feed me, when were you hungry Lord? What you do to my brothers and sisters you do to me. So then would the homeless woman begging for food then be Jesus? I can tell you that I can't forget her face. Honestly I think both people were Jesus in this case. I think both are just as loved by God. I am also pretty sure that I failed Jesus that night, along with my faith and the woman who was hungry. OUCH OUCH OUCH.
I am humbled and grateful that God is gracious. I am aware that I am in need of grace as much as that woman was. God make my heart wide open to all of your people!