There she was. And down a ways, there they were. Tall, big dudes. Eyes wide. Edging closer, their bad intentions starting to seep through the group of hungry men, felt by spirits standing near. Amazing how potential violence is contagious, the flip side of humble kindness which is infectious, peaceful. Back to the woman in a moment.
Something about a bus pass I think. I didn’t catch any other specifics, didn’t need to know, didn’t matter. But whatever it was, it wasn’t going away. Nope – once crossed, the boundary of basic civility affords little resistance to hostilities seeking expression. And with these two folks, that boundary was probably already pretty thin because they were homeless.
Being homeless tends to cause one to place a highly-inflated value on the smallest of things. One man carried an electric razor, cord dangling, for what ultimate purpose, hard to say: perhaps a future bartering chip. Not having a dependable and sustainable protection from the elements breeds irrationality, an inability to overcome any potential of another loss, another disappointment, another reason to conclude the universe is inescapably hostile.
As the two moved further down the alley, more and more of the men in line for lunch sacks heard their posturing. “Do you wanna fight me” – “come on, let’s do it” – “somebody give me a phone to call 911” – “I’m not trying to go to jail.” Eventually they passed behind the woman who was quietly, calmly passing out bologna sandwiches and bananas.
I wish I could remember what she said, probably something along the lines of “Hey fellas, let it go. Come on now, not worth it.” But it wasn’t her words, it was her gentle presence and the calm expression on her face as she positioned herself between them. She was a good foot or so shorter than the taller of the two men. And to watch her look each man in the face, smile, preserve their dignity and help defuse a potentially dangerous situation … amazing. Some minutes later, others helped to emotionally “hold” the men and absorb their anger until it dissipated.
Such a clear reminder of our Lord’s invisible Presence in us at all times, especially when the fractures of our common nature seem ready to erupt. Let us continue to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” His faithfulness is without measure, without limit to all.
“Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”