Saturday, February 18, 2012

She Remembered - A Story from the City

It was a beautiful spring morning when I saw her.   I was on my way north for the summer and was just leaving my friend’s apartment that sat on a bustling Chicago street.  Then she walked up to me. Sonja was her name. She looked as if she had traveled some hard miles in life, but she did not have that completely disheveled, un-kept appearance that characterize so many homeless people.  She politely asked me for money to buy a bus pass.  Usually I give food or other necessary items to homeless, though in this case I had no money on me anyway.  I asked her if she’d like some food, and she said yes.  I told her to wait a minute while I ran upstairs.  I was in too big a hurry to make the sandwich myself, so I grabbed a jar of jelly and a jar of peanut butter, some bread, a granola bar, and a butter knife.   When I gave it to her, she beamed with thankfulness.

We talked for a short time, and she shared that she was living in some kind of rehabilitation home for women and getting her feet back on the ground.  The sincerity behind her voice made me trust her.  I gave her a small business card with the address and phone number of my church.  She looked at it, then said something that caught me off guard.  

“I know this church, and your pastor….”

I said his name in a questioning voice.

“Yeah, that’s him.  He helped me once.” 

This didn’t surprise me too much.  He is the type of man who will set aside his schedule to help someone out whom others pretend not to see.  

“And I remember you,” she added.

“You remember me?” Now I began to question her sincerity.  I was sure I had never seen this woman.  And besides, Chicago is a city of over three million people–the chances that I had crossed paths with this one particular person were slim.

“Yeah, you gave me food. It was a couple years ago under the bridge.  You and a group of others.”  She went on to name the food that was on the plate, as well as the general location. 

The memory immediately came back to me.  Just under two years ago from that day, I participated in a homeless outreach with a group from my church, fixing up plates and delivering them to various locations, including the one she named. 

After two years, she still remembered the plate of chicken.

I was pleasantly shocked.

We talked for a few more minutes, and then she thanked me before we went our separate ways.  I wasn’t the same after that, however, and the memory of that encounter warmed my heart during the entire five hour drive north, and many times thereafter.

Random acts of kindness.  They are pleasing to God, and good for the soul.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”  Hebrews 13:15

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