This morning, while heading to church, a string of events got me thinking. I encountered a physically-challenged woman in a wheelchair. She came to me at the bottom of a traffic light to ask for some money for food. I gave her a shiny two-cedi coin that I had been keeping in my wallet. This two-cedi coin was not just another coin - to me, that is. I'm a bit of a collector of coins, you see, and being freshly in circulation, this coin, my very first one, was destined for my collection case. But I looked at the woman and her need and felt that, at least, was better than just moving on without extending a helping hand.
After moving from that traffic light, I headed for a washing bay close by. The harmattan had left my ride looking like something out of a sandstorm so I decided to give my "baby girl" a much-needed bath. It was there, while I sat awaiting the washing to be completed, that this gentle soul came by. He was dishevelled, yes. His hair and clothes were very unkempt, yes. He was smelly too. He had all the makings of a lunatic - and that he was, in fact! I looked straight into his eyes when he tried to get my attention. I knew, immediately, that he was not up to any mischief and did not mean any harm. He wanted some money to get porridge, he said. Still looking him smack in the eyes, I asked whether he wouldn't use it to get a smoke. He said no - he wanted to purchase porridge from a seller nearby. Him, too, I gave a little money, watching as he went to get the food. Before I did, however, I enquired of him where he had schooled (crazy question, right?). Why? He spoke very good English - in fact, he sounded very polished. There were piercing stares from passers-by who obviously were wondering who this sane person was who was having what appeared to be a pleasant chat with - a lunatic!
There was a third person, believe or or not. Him, I encountered after church. He, too, came to me with an interesting plea. I offered him much more than I had given the first two. I gave to him, too, not because I am a fool and not because I do not have a thousand and one things I could do with those sums I doled out. My name is not Santa Claus and I most definitely do not have so much that I do not know what to do with it. In fact, I do not just give out money recklessly; if I did, I'd probably be a pauper by now. But I am kind to a fault, which I know some people try to exploit sometimes. That said, however, though I am not wealthy in physical terms, there are people I encounter who make me appreciate, in all fullness, just how much more I have been blessed with and how much better I can make life for them - even if just for a day. That is why I gave what I did. I also give, often, because others have been touched, from time to time, to be generous to me. And as I have freely received, I, too, freely give. That, after all, is how life must be lived.
These three people I met this morning got me thinking about how much we see and how much we hear, especially we, who call ourselves Christians. Of course, you can look and not really see, just as you can listen and yet not really hear much. All around us, there are people with great need - and when I say great need, if anyone's need is greater than yours, of course, that is even greater need! Many of us look, not to help but so we can gossip and utter falsehoods about others. Many more listen, not to hear and know what the needs are of others so they can help, but rather to condemn and mock them. Christian and Jew, Muslim and Buddhist, Hindu and what have you - most of us have turned religion on its head. The "religion" of our world is no longer love, like we have known it to be, regardless of what our creed is; nowadays religion is all about showiness and snobbishness and vanity. How funny and foolish we must appear to God, when, His Son, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, humbled himself to become one of us - while we, mortal humans, carry on as though we would never expire!
The point is silly simple, really: the lunatic may have lost his marbles somewhat - but it doesn't make him any less human; that woman may be begging on the street, seeking our alms, but it doesn't make her any less dignified or worthy of our respect. In the end, we are all "worthy" in God's eyes, as creatures of His own loving Hand. How, then, can we look down on others just because of their problems - their lives' circumstances?
"NEVER LOOK DOWN ON ANYBODY UNLESS YOU ARE HELPING HIM UP." -Jesse Jackson
BE BLESSED AND BE A BLESSING ONTO ALL...