A young woman, beaten, crying, robbed of all that she had and all that she was, sat on the curb at the side of the road. She'd done things that she wasn't proud of simply to survive. She is unkempt, no one has cared about her for a long time and she faced her life alone, broken and destitute.
A pastor from the neighborhood church was walking down the same road. He saw her, she saw him. Dropping his eyes, he hurried past, he was already late for a meeting and didn't have time to stop. Somebody ought to do something, he thought. He passed on by.
A City Councilman, a respected leader in the community also saw the young woman. Tsking and shaking his head, he passed her by, another statistic, he thought. Something must be done. But he just didn't have time to help.
He saw her, she saw him. It's a shame, he'd thought. Somebody ought to do something. But he was already late and had no time to be bothered. He passed on by.
With her head bowed, tears burned the young woman's eyes, streaking down her dirty cheeks in muddy trails and she didn't bother to push them away this time. No one cared, no one ever did.
A beautiful woman, bedecked and bedazzled, her face shining like a glorious bronzed jewel, came by. She saw the young woman sitting on the curb, her knees drawn up into her chest, her face pressed against her dirty jeans, her hair a mess. She saw the young woman, the young woman saw her.
“My daughter, my sister,” the beautiful woman murmured, her voice like music as she knelt beside the young woman, raising her face, their eyes meeting. The beautiful woman not only stopped to see what she could do to help the young woman, but she cleaned and bound her injuries, taking her to a place she knew of nearby where she could recuperate, eat and regain her strength, leaving enough money to provide for any need she might have.
I remember as a child watching "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" with my siblings, all six of us lined up in front of the black and white. I remember thinking how cool it would be to live in that neighborhood; oh how I wished that Mr. Rogers could be my neighbor. All of the things that he'd seen, all of the places he'd been and the people he'd met in his travels. Everyone he'd met was a friend; there were no strangers in his neighborhood.
In the Bible, there is a beautiful parable about a Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a total stranger who had been beaten and left for dead. A religious leader of that time attempted to muddy the waters by asking for clarification - who was considered his neighbor?
Who is our neighbor? Total strangers, Sisters in Spirit and In Soul. Sisters beaten down in Spirit by society, sometimes even by each other. Sisters robbed of opportunities to better themselves. Left on the side of the road all but forgotten as Life rushes by.
Who is our neighbor? The one who shows mercy. Love your neighbor as you love yourself, Jesus Christ enjoined in the scriptures. We are the beautiful women who extend the hand to our Sisters, our daughters, and our friends. Offering Love and Life. Sharing joy and compassion. Listening patiently without judging or demanding our way. Respecting each other and ourselves. Building relationships and bridges for those who follow our lead. Living serenely and fearlessly.
Extending mercy. Do this and you will live, Jesus said. Do this and we all will live. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? You could be my neighbor.
This is 29
4 weeks ago