Archive for May 15th, 2009

An Unusual Encounter
May 15, 2009

I was walking down a deserted area of St-Catherine street at about 1am, when I saw a silhouette coming toward me.
“Excuse me, do you have change?”
“No, I’m sorry.” I said, still walking.
Usually, one can be asked for change many times in this area of town. To be asked for food in the middle of the night is a different story. So I stopped and reached into my pocket. I guess the person expected less than I gave her because she had tears in her eyes. It broke my heart. I asked this person, a tiny native lady, what her name was.
“My name is Hannah. I’m hungry; I just want a fry or something.” Tears were now streaming down her face. I could tell she was fed up, overwhelmed, and lonely.
I touched her shoulder and told her that if she ever needed food, she could go to St-Stephen’s Church right behind the hospital. The Open Door is a soup kitchen where workers and volunteers feed and counsel the weak and the weary.
She grabbed my hand and said “You just answered my prayer. The Spirit brought us here.” Then she I hugged her. I felt something tug at my heart. What had happened to this poor woman’s childhood that she wound up roaming these dark streets?
“Do you have anything to read?”She asked me.
I didn’t. But I reached inside my wallet and gave her double what I’d already given her; had she asked for my sweater I would have given it to her. I just wanted her to be okay–to go sit and eat peacefully. I knew this woman was in pain, lonely and searching. She was bolder in her faith than many I have seen, including myself. What struck me the most was that although she had a middle-aged woman’s body, I saw a child looking at me.

As I left I heard her sobbing. I had to blink a few times to hold back tears. As I walked I prayed for her. I prayed for the Lord to counsel and comfort her.

We are not called because of our works. Do you think I could have helped this woman had I told her how many good works I’d done throughout my life? It’s easy to do good works when you’re born in a healthy home, a wealthy country where luxuries abound. And by luxury I’m not referring to fancy cars and spiffy clothes–your luxuries are the food that you can eat so freely, the air you can breathe so easily, the space that you have because your legs are healthy. Arrogance in the “western world” is invisible to most of us. Our arrogance is so ubiquitous that we don’t even see it. We stare at the ceiling every night before going off in a comfortable sleep, yet we don’t ever seem to notice that we have a roof over our heads and clean sheets to sleep in.

It’s been four days since I met Hannah, and I wish I could tell her that God answered a prayer for me too when we met. I was struck by how fragile her little soul was that night, and if I could have taken away her pain that very night, I would have done it without hesitation.