The Bread of Life

 

homeless person at water

From a distance, it was obvious where she lived or existed. Her clothes were crumpled and her shoes well that was a few seasons ago. She was a petite woman under her baggy jeans and loose-fitting dark blue sweat shirt. Her pretty almond complexion camouflaged her unwashed face. As we walked towards each other, I saw her she had a beautiful smile.

My son and I just left a community board meeting and he was carrying the tray of sandwiches. Our goal,  feed the homeless with the excess from the budget. We stopped and asked if she wanted something to eat? My son removed the plastic lid and placed the tray in front of her. She didn’t move. She stared into my eyes and I saw that her eyes were big and brown just like mine. She too had grey hair but mine was colored. It was a very awkward 10 seconds. No one moved. Finally, I said, “Help yourself. Take one…I don’t know what you like.” Why did she want me to choose? Why did she want me to hand it to her? What was she ashamed of…life?

I had to encourage her one more time, “It’s okay.” Slowly, she raised her hand from the side of her jeans that held traces of places where she spent her time. Her fingernails were long, yellow, chipped and black dirt crusted under her nails. But, gingerly she placed her hand over the tray and with poise, grace and dignity she made her choice. We smiled. She believed that she wasn’t worthy. She believed that we couldn’t overlook her flaws. Why? We too had flaws. She just couldn’t see them.

Scorned, rejected and abused she knew that all too well. But, kindness that was foreign in her Native land.  We gave away all the sandwich’s that Thursday evening with the same stipulation everyone picked their own. And, all alike used their manners something they thought, we didn’t believe they possessed.  This would seem like the best place to end the story. But, I passed by her on the way back, as she clung to the light-post and whispered in my ear, “I’m lost,”…this was not about her receiving her favorite ham sandwich…this was about the bread of life.

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