At five minutes to the hour, I softly peck Hubby goodbye, lock the front door behind me, and race down the street toward the train station in my winter boots. My heels are in my bag, and I’m grateful for the gloves I pulled on at the last second this chilly fall morning in Long Island.
As I hit the tracks, I’m relieved to see other commuters walking toward the platform, because I started to doubt my memory. Was the train coming at 6:09, 6:05 or 6AM sharp? My phone reads 5:58AM, and now that the cold air woke me up, I decide to ask. “Excuse me sir, but what time does the train get here exactly?”
The sound of a choo-choo in the distance tells me she’s drawing near. “That’s the train now. Should be arriving any second.”
No! I still need to buy my ticket at the vending machine that is notorious for making me start over when I can’t punch in numbers fast enough. So I do what any person in crisis would do. I start running. And two, maybe three steps into my sprint, I eat it. Trip on the sidewalk, and land flat on my chest, my right cheek hitting cement and my left knee skidding me to a stop.
“You need help?”
“Are you okay?”
“Can I give you a hand?”
“I’m okay,” I say, looking at my ripped glove on my right hand.
I brush off my dress and swallow my pride as I limp to the vending machine. When I board the train, the lighting gives me a chance to examine the damage, and my knee is cut up and bleeding, threatening to drip down my leg onto my boot. So I do what any person who just put on a great show would do. Encore!
I stand up on the train as it rumbles forward and ask, “Excuse me, but does anyone here have a band aid? I’m, umm, bleeding, and...”
I spot the two women nearest me fishing through their bags, and the lady next to the window holds up not one, but two bandages and tells me I can have them both.
“What’s your name?” I always like to say a person’s name when I say thank you. It’s just something I do.
She smiles and says, “Mary.”
“Thanks so much, Mary. Promise to give you a shout out in my blog. You just saved me from walking around the city in pain all day. Really, thanks.”
The thing is, for the last two weeks, I’ve attended events, listened to speakers and made new friends at venues where the hot topic has been “How to be a Voice to the Voiceless.” Nomi Network, in collaboration with several other organizations fighting human trafficking, hosted a month long pop-up shop featuring special guests on three nights to share how they’re making changes around the world to fight modern day slavery.
The first event I attended, a lot of wonderful and moving stories were shared but the statement that moved me was by Chris Heuertz who founded a group called Gravity. Yes, like the movie, Gravity. What is it about my life and running themes?
This particular Gravity is a Social Justice organization that teaches how to “cultivate contemplative spirituality in a demanding world with insatiable needs.” The dude’s worked side by side with Mother Teresa and that alone made me want to listen to him.
He said something to the effect of, “Look, what would you do for a friend? When we stop looking at this world like it’s a us-them problem, and look at every human being as a friend, we wouldn’t hesitate to step in and help.”
The particular morning when I fell trying the catch the train, I was on my way to attend Movement Day, and Romanita Hairston, Vice President of U.S. Domestic Programs, World Vision said essentially the same thing: “When we realize that poverty is not just a financial thing, that we’re all poor, maybe some of us are relationshiply-poor or emotionally-spent or whatever the case.”
When we realize that it’s about perspective, the isolation, judgement and awkwardness we gravitate toward when the topic of poverty comes up fades, and we’re all left standing around with palms open, in need of something.
Andy Stanley explains it perfectly when he shares the classic story of the Good Samaritan. We all know it. Guy gets beaten up and left to die on the street. Several people walk over on their way to somewhere and walk right on by. But then one guy stops, picks up the injured stranger, bandages his wounds, carries him to a clinic and pays for his health care.
“Who do you suppose the narrator of the story wants to draw your attention to?” Stanley asks.
The good guy, of course, thinks probably 95% of us.
“What if... Rather than see yourself as the person who chooses to help, the point of the story is to see yourself as the person laying on the street left to die?”
Take that in for a moment.
“What did the hurting person have to do to get help?”
We all know the answer.
There are millions of hurting people all around us, many of whom will never lift up their hands and ask aloud for help. Most of whose voices we might never hear crying out in pain. Oceans, fences, walls, and daily choices makes it easy to close our eyes and ears to those suffering around us. But the barriers do not make their hurts nor the hurting disappear.
My cut on my knee was small. My pain temporary. My need little, and yet so many jumped at the chance to help me.
As we enter this fall and winter, Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays, think again what you’re grateful for. And think afresh who you could reach down and help up this season?
Love as you are loved.