Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The least of these

"Why do you want to help me? You don't even know me?"

The pain in her eyes as she asked me this and the dumbfounded look on my face as I searched for an answer that I didn't know how to put into words. What I did know was that she was all I could think about this weekend as I sat on comfortably in my home, spending time with my family, cooking dinner which I would enjoy eating on my dining room table all along knowing she had nothing.

"What you do for the least of these you do for me"

That's what I wanted to say but I knew she might not understand. So, as I stood there, looking at what was left of her home; a home she bought 37 years ago with her husband who is now deceased. As I stood there mapping out where everything used to be before the fire engulfed all her memories, the same type of house as mine. I stood frozen, tears swelling up for this stranger I hadn't even heard of until Friday:

Rose Grady's house burnt down on Friday at 9:45 am. Although the house is destroyed, there were no casualties in the fire.

That is what the headlines read and although they were right, there were no casualties, no one died, what they didn't report was how she lost every picture, every piece of jewelry her loving husband ever bought for her. How now, this 70 or so year old widow has nothing left. I'm sorry, but that is a causality.

I don't know why this has bothered me so much, why D and I just looked at each other all weekend wanting to do something, but what? How could we possibly help? This morning I was sick and tired of wondering what I could do and was ready to just do so I strapped Camille into her stroller and began my walk down the street. I didn't know what I was going to say, or who I was going to talk to but I prayed the whole way down asking God to just put the right person in the right spot if this was His will. As I turned the corner and entered her block I felt the butterflies begin. I didn't want them to think I was merely walking by to stare at someone elses misfortune. I wasn't here for entertainment, I was here to help. Before one more thought could enter my head a car pulled into a driveway and I knew this was my time. I know God had orchestrated the whole thing, I met with the right person at the right time. We stood there coming up with a plan, how we could raise money, how I could help, finally. As I began to walk away, the neighbor pointed and waved. There was Rose and I finally got to meet this woman I couldn't stop thinking about all weekend.

"I have to check out of my hotel room tomorrow morning"

Apparently the Red Cross only helps for a few days. After that, you're on your own.

"Don't worry, I'll cover tonight's bill"

As the words slipped out I honestly had no clue how I would pay for it. God knows I don't have money but I knew I needed to do something. Put your money where your mouth is they say. And to think, it's a damn hotel bill that just a month ago spiralled my family out of control.

So why would I want to help someone I didn't know?

Because that could be me, or you, or my Mom. I don't know. God calls us to help our neighbor in times of need. He specifically calls us to help the widows.

That's the only explanation I could give.

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