A young African-American man came to my door yesterday, selling magazine subscriptions. I wouldn’t have answered the door, as I don’t answer my door if I am not expecting anyone, but the front door was open and one of my dogs, aroused by the sound of the doorbell, was already “greeting” the stranger enthusiastically.
The young man gave a good sales pitch. He was trying to get his life together; he had come from a poor neighborhood and had gotten into trouble but was trying to make a come-around. He held up the plastic-covered paperwork which described and validated the company for which he was working. We “virtually” shook hands.
Though it was unbearably hot, there was no sweat on this young man; his white shirt looked crisp and dry. He gave his pitch to me, but I wasn’t biting. I didn’t want any magazine subscriptions. Plus, if I had wanted a subscription, I wouldn’t have been able to purchase one. I have no job.
But the young man stood, tall, straight, and determined. I don’t know what I said, but he said, “But we can do all things through Christ.” Right before that, he said, “What if the roles were revered? What if I was standing inside, where you are, and you were standing here, where I am? Wouldn’t you want me to help you out?”
He had no idea how much his words gave me pause. Was I looking at what I am about to become? A person, going door to door, asking people to purchase something they don’t want, just so to be able to have some money, not even enough to survive?
He said something else, but I didn’t hear. I was absorbed in my troubling thoughts. In a moment, he was gone. I watched him walk away, quickly, proudly, straight and tall.
But he was gone. I looked out my bedroom window when I went back to my room. He was gone. He wasn’t next door; I didn’t see him sauntering down, or around, the cul-de-sac. He had disappeared just like he had appeared. When the doorbell had rung, I looked out my window. I saw no car. I thought it might be a neighbor…but it was him. And now, he was gone.
The situation reminded me of something that had happened years ago when my children were little. It was a dark, cold, rainy November night. We were in a gas station. A person walked up to the car, wanting money; she said (I think it was a she) she was hungry, but I said I didn’t have any money, and sent her on her way.
I had always told my children that we are supposed to love “the least of these.” We were Christians, for goodness’ sake. We were called to not only talk love, but live it.
Jesus Mother Mercy. From the mouths of babes. I was hit with a sense of…something…including shame. I immediately turned around. I bought a sandwich and began looking for the woman.
But she was gone. She had disappeared. I drove up one street, down another. Surely, she couldn’t have gone far? But she was gone. It was like she had appeared and disappeared in the same breath.
Like yesterday. I could hear Charlie’s voice. “Mommy, what if that was God?” I can’t stop shuddering. I would bet I missed an opportunity for something that God put in front of me…again …and I would bet that more of us than we care to think or talk about have had similar experiences.
We say we can’t see God, but it’s not because God doesn’t reveal Him/Herself to us. It’s because we have spiritual cataracts, caused by any number of experiences. My cataracts yesterday are there because I am consumed with my own situation.
I saw the face of God, and turned away one of “the least of these.”
A candid observation…