That there is still decency and kindness in the world.This morning on the downtown eastside I sat in my locked car at a busy intersection and witnessed an action that reminded me there is good in people all around us. It also reminded me about judgements.
A woman struggled to get across the busy crossing before the “DON’T WALK “symbol appeared. Confined to a wheel chair and shoeless, she struggled to push the chair forward with her shuffling feet. As she struggled past, I noticed one foot wrapped in bandages and the other covered in a tattered sock.
Suddenly, out from the shadowy streets ran a man, an oddity with his own set of issues. Long hair a mess, eyes unfocused; he jittered forth. This man noticed the woman in the wheelchair and paused. As he bent to whisper words in her ear, he grabbed the handles at the back of the wheelchair and silently pushed the chair through the cross walk to safety, leaving the somewhat surprised woman to negotiate the edge between road and sidewalk. A random act of kindness and compassion toward another.
In fact, I saw several acts of compassion on the downtown eastside from vendors offering a cup of Joe to marginalized people outside the trending coffee shops to two city police officers that knelt beside a forlorn man seated on a blanket. They gently spoke with him.
A reminder to look beneath the surface. One man’s random wish to help another human navigate through this often confused and chaotic world made a view outside the car window a whole lot brighter.
What will you see today and who will you help?
The tiny woman peeks from behind a group of towering palms; the fronds a blowsy canopy offering shade from the searing afternoon heat. She is watching and waiting for the right moment. The restaurant patio full of people enjoying a meal, oblivious to the watchful eyes. So much waste, she muses.
At first glance, the small woman fits in, looks like anyone seated outside a local burger restaurant. At a glance, she possesses a hip, fashion forward style. The ball cap pulled down low on her forehead, tank top tight exposing thin, muscular, sun-kissed arms, board shorts falling to mid calf. A pair of bright white tennis shoes, laced together, hang around her neck. Why would a woman hang sneakers around her neck? At first glance she resembles a beautiful, blessed, and golden California girl.
Look again. The woman darts; quickly she rummages through open garbage bins, tipping discarded food bags, rooting out left overs, tossed scraps. Carefully collecting discarded bits, she drinks from tossed soft drink containers. Her darkened, vacant eyes scan the bin’s contents. She is ready to scurry off at the first hint of confrontation. The shoes on her feet too large for someone so petite; they hinder her run. A sunken jaw; she is missing teeth. This is not a blessed California girl. This woman is middle-aged, certainly homeless.
For a few moments, an uneasiness pricks as I eat; I have so much. Compassion twinges. There is one who lives scuffling hand to mouth. Guilt simmers as I ponder; fear that the woman is any of us, someone’s mother, sister, aunt. Shame that this country has so much suffering at its seams.