He paced the median strip, while cars idled at the red light in Revere. I was on my way to pick up my granddaughter, Lily, at Logan airport. So happy she was coming, which is part of why you haven’t heard from me since she arrived. Back to the pacer.
The man wore tattoos like body armour. A scruffy beard hid most of his face and the beat-up base ball cap corralled a mop of hair, more than announced an affiliation with any team. From the safety of my car, I read his cardboard sign. “ANY THING HELPS.” Fortunately, I thought, the light will turn green before he reaches me.
While I watched, no one offered anything to him. As for me, as long as there was space between us and I avoided eye contact, I could pretend he wasn’t there. Then Jesus showed up, maybe in this nameless man, but for sure in my spirit. I thought of words I recite on Sundays:
“We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.” Then laughed to myself, as I recalled the Sunday Poco, about age five responded, “I have!” as she sat on Lily’s lap in church.
Well, knowing enough about Jesus, I knew he wouldn’t be impressed if I excused myself with, “He’s not MY neighbor.” Meanwhile, the light remained red. Then I saw him make the turn and head down the strip towards me. Again. I fumbled in my purse and found a dollar. The folded twenty, tucked between credit cards was for emergency use. Only.
As he approached, I opened the window and stuck out my attempt at ANY THING HELPS. One buck. We hooked eyes, then he smiled. It was a beauty of a smile. I said, ‘Hi. God bless you, sir.” Flimsy words on my part, though I prayed, later, God would bless him. And he took the money but didn’t rush to the next car. He kept looking at me. It felt soul deep. One person made in God’s image seeing another made in God’s image. Both pronounced, “Good!”
Then he said, “I hope you have a really good day, M’am. And thank you.”
As I drove away I thought I should’ve said, “Thank YOU, for the million dollar smile.”
Holy stop light!
Holy unexpected Jesus.
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