I saw you the other day standing alone under a bridge. You were watching the cars zoom past you while you were having a conversation with yourself. No one waved to you. No one stopped to see if you were okay – no one, including me.
I watched you at the street corner as I sat at a traffic light. You were a new face at this busy intersection. The sign you were holding read, “Hungry disabled veteran.” I had three boxes full of leftovers from my birthday dinner. I did not offer anything.
I passed you in the school parking lot yesterday morning. Our children played together at a local play area last week, yet you walked right past me as if you did not recognize me. You did not say, “Hello.” You did not even acknowledge my presence. But, I did not speak to you, either.
You were struggling with your baby and all her baby things. As you were leaving the restaurant, I heard something hit the ground. I turned to see a baby bottle lying beside my seat. The gentleman at the next table offered help while I continued my lunch conversation.
I wonder how many times I have passed you by without a glance, without a thought. How many times have you crossed my path without my recognition? How many times have I accused you of self-centeredness when I was the one who neglected to reach out to you? Can I count the times? Can you?
Have I become so selfish that I no longer recognize your face? Am I so blind that I no longer see your need and so deaf that I no longer hear your cries? Yes! I am engrossed in my own desires, my own life and my own world to such a degree that I see nothing but what is mine. And still I wonder where you are when I am in need. Surely, you are thoughtful enough to remember me!
I was not intended to live life this way; I was not meant to close my eyes to the world around me, to live in seclusion and to seek my own satisfaction no matter the cost to others. I was created to share, to fellowship, to touch, to help, to heal, to love. Still, when I saw you hungry and thirsty, I did not feed you. When I saw you homeless and shivering, I did not shelter you. When I saw you sick and in prison, I did not help you. Very little effort was required – a smile, a wave, a hug, a word – but I could not be bothered. I failed you and I failed the One who sent me to you.
I saw you standing along the roadside. You were having a conversation but this time, you were not alone. A man was holding your hands in his as he said a prayer for you….
That should have been me.