Halos of light dotted the gym parking lot, marking the path to our minivan. With little E’s knees digging into my hip and the boys trotting beside, we herded past the lines of cars towards the red van parked at the lot’s edge. A few steps from the door, I reached into my purse for the keys, and a voice, bold and thick, rolled into the night, jerking me around,
“Hey there. Could you tell me where Toastmasters is?”
A woman wearing an ankle-length skirt stood on a curb under a streetlight. Her coco-skin blended into the dark as she teetered on the curb clutching a sliver cane.
Who is this lady and what does she want?
I squeezed E closer before unlocking my lips,
“I’m not sure what Toastmasters is, Ma’am.”
“It’s a meeting and I just need to get pointed in the right direction. Is there a red brick church nearby?”
“I don’t think so, Ma’am. You are standing in front of the Community Center gym. If you go to the front desk I’m sure they could help you.”
“Can you get me started the right direction?” she asked, jabbing her cane, gleaming light-saber-blue, into the night.
I pointed towards the gym’s glowing windows, “See those big windows? The front doors are right under them.”
“Honey. I’m blind. Can’t see no lights. Just point me in the right direction and I’ll keep walking till I get there.”
“Um, well, . . . . just keep going straight,” I said.
Just keep going straight?! She’s blind!
“Thank you, honey!” She thumped off the curb into the parking lot, leaning heavy on the cane.
“Mom! Mom!” squealed the six-year-old huddled against my legs, “She’s got a droid leg.”
“A what?” I whispered.
He pointed to the streak of silver snaking out from under her hem with every hop-step.
She has a robotic leg too?!
Five white faces gaped at the blind, black woman with the droid leg wobbling towards invisible lights. But when a sliver car gunned out of a parking spot, red taillights nearly clipping the cane, my eleven year-old squeaked,
“Mom, she’s not gonna make it! She’s gonna get run over! She’s BLIND! She needs help!”
And he ran, white hair flying, calling,
“Ma’am, do you want some help? ”
She paused, cane hovering mid-air, “Oh thank you, honey, thank you!” M leaned close, crooking his skinny arm, and long, dark fingers swallowed it whole.
Now four white faces watched the blind black lady with the droid leg hop-stumble across the parking lot leaning on our white-haired boy.
Old and young, white and black, crippled and whole became one as they stumbled towards the light.
E’s whisper-whine into my ear, “I’m cold, mommy!” reminded me of the three kiddos who needed buckling in. Yanking open the van door, I yelled to M, “Take the lady to the front desk and I’ll pick you up!”
With the rest of the kids strapped into seats, I backed the van into the parking lot and joined a growing line of cars snaking through the dark. At the front of the line, straddling the crosswalk, M stood with palm raised, giving the lady space, keeping her safe, reminding us all of what it means to be Human, to walk another person’s walk, to feel the stumbling of their days.
Vulnerability, weakness, asking for help when we can’t see the light—this is what brings us together and makes us One.
We’ve forgotten that we’re all blind men stumbling around in the dark, looking for the light. Too proud to admit our weakness, too proud to reach for the hand that looks different than our own, we yell epithets into the dark, slapping away helping hands.
Perhaps this is why Jesus says the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit—for only in weakness do we learn to cry out for mercy and turn to the One who gives sight.
Blessed are the poor in spirit who realize their need for Him—
for they will see God.
In what ways do you struggle to admit your humanity—your weakness and fallibility—and elevate yourself? Do you work to make everyone in you life happy with you? Do you set your mind to accomplishing tasks that you think will make you strong, invincible? Do you criticize and demean others who think, live, and look differently in an attempt to elevate yourself as better? Do you_____?
Turn to the One who gives sight, name your attempts to cover your weakness, your humanity, and seek his mercy and grace to transform you into someone who depends on Him.