Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Walking away

She was a pitiful sight – hair askew, eye blackened from a punch three nights previous, sitting just outside her hotel room in her wheelchair. She had been attacked in the camp by the railroad tracks where she lives, and now she was faced with having one more night at the hotel followed by an uncertain tomorrow. I had stopped by to bring her some clothes and food and to try and tell her that I did care about her, even though I had no clue how to fix her situation. She recounted the attack over and over to me, as she had in the days previous, and she began to yell and cry, as I asked her what she wanted me to do for her. I knew that our church could not keep her at the hotel indefinitely. We had already tried to place her in a group home, and she'd left after only two days. There was a chance she could go to a domestic violence shelter in a nearby city, but she didn't want to do that. "I can't go to another shelter situation!" she yelled. "I've been out here in this chair for 10 years, getting murdered, and you want me to go to another shelter?!?"

I was at a loss. It seemed that what she really wanted me to do was find her an apartment and pay for it each month indefinitely, something our church did not have the finances to do. She continued to yell at me. "What if I was your sister or your mom or your daughter? What would you do then?" I told her I didn't know. Inside I thought that I would most likely bring my family into my home to live, but I kept that to myself. "It's all about the money, isn't it? Jesus didn't care about money! Jesus cared about people! You can't look at me in this situation and say you can't do anything. You can't be a Christian and leave me like this!" I told her goodbye and walked away, not sure what else I could say or why I should stay further.

My thoughts in the days since have been haunted by her. Should I have brought her home with me, moving my son into my daughters' room and creating a space for her? Am I just not a radical enough Christian? Isn't that how the early church grew, that Christians would take in those in society that no one else loved or wanted? If anyone is the "least of these", she is. The Lord seemed strangely silent as I wrestled and worried, wondered and prayed. It's times like these that I wonder if I'm cut out to follow Jesus in the hardest places of the world, because when I get there, I feel like I lack either the insight or the courage to act for transformation.


Michele said...
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Michele said...

What I keep hearing in my spirit for her, and for so many of our friends in this same, desperate, hurting place, is the beginning of the story of the pool of Bethesda:

From John 5: "Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?'"When we're ready to get well, the Healer appears. God makes a way.