Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Art of Helping Another

The other night, I was walking along the street to a nearby wine store with a friend and noticed a man sitting on the sidewalk, asking for money. We were on our way to a friend's house, and they were waiting for us, but as I past him again, I noticed a stream of blood running down his leg, staining his shoes and the sidewalk.

No one had stopped to help him. No one had done anything about it at all. As I was with a friend, I asked if we could stop and find a place to pick up some things for him. So I went to a convenience store, found some paper towels, a large water bottle to clean the wound and stop the bleeding, and got some polysporin. I went back across the street and gave it to him, and he told me that he was calling the Salvation Army for a pick up. I left him at that point and went to my friend's house.

You know, I am angry with myself for that. I am angry that I did not take the time to stop, ask his name, and make sure he got a ride to the Salvation Army, as I should have. I didn't even stay to see if he was okay to clean his wounds. Yes, my friend wanted us to get back to my other friend's place, who was expecting us, but I could have stayed and waited with him. I could have. But I didn't. Partially because I was afraid. Partially because I knew my friend would be waiting for me and getting worried about what was happening - although I easily could have called. And partially because I simply knew that if I took the time to help him, that I would likely not be spending any time with my friends that evening. And this last reason is - to my own shame - probably the biggest factor.

And I know, in my heart of hearts, that Jesus would have spent his time with that man. He would have left his friend's house and company and sat on that sidewalk with him, even in the incoherent state of mind that man was in. So I have to question myself. To admit my own mistakes. To say that despite my best intentions, I don't even know if he used those things I bought for him. I don't know if he's okay. If his wound is infected, or if he got to the Salvation Army. And here I am, thinking about him right now. 

I think it's a sad sight when our society gets to the point that a man who is bleeding and hurt, without money on the street, remains ignored. No one did anything. And my very minute gesture was rather pathetic. I recognized his hurt, but I still left him to figure out the details.

We are all broken people in a world desperate for God's grace. May we bear the burdens and pain of others, to the detriment of our own convenience, to bring some light to a dark place. 

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