Just yesterday I found myself replaying a scene from my childhood. It was as if I was nine years old, struggling to find the right response to the beggars that surrounded every foreigner who ventured into Commercial Street or the India equivalent of High Street, M.G. Road. The scene may have been different yet I find the emotions are lingering after.
I was standing in one of the gathering spots at Waterloo Stations. Hundreds of us standing together, watching the video displays that would let us know the specific track for our departure. Men in jeans, women in power suits, back-packers, kids on the way home from school all gathered in one spot, waiting. Some red the Evening Standard, others chatted away on their cell phones unable to wait until they reached their destinations, and some blissfully stared into space. I munched on a bag of salted popcorn, watching the spectacle.
My visual adventure was interrupted by a light tap on the arm.
“Can you spare a few coins so I can have some dinner?”
My automatic response flowed before my mind thought or my eyes engaged. “No, I am sorry. I have nothing that I can spare.”
Politely she turned away and quietly moved.
Even now I can hear her plea, sense her need. But I cannot see her face, remember the color of her dress, or even tell you the length of her hair. It was as if I mirrored the proverb “If they see you coming, they look the other way – out of sight, out of mind.” (Proverbs 19.8)
Is this the way that it should be? I understand that one person cannot solve the problems of every person in the world, yet we can make a difference to those who cross our paths. I had change in my pocket. I could have walked with her and purchased some food. I could have done something.
God does not do that with you or me. Treating others as if they are invisible is not the answer. Compassion, love, and mercy are bigger than that.