A few summer’s ago, I drove nine hours from
Perhaps I need to explain.
Because of his job, my husband has done a fair bit of traveling, usually by airplane. Normally he would have flown to
Not wanting to leave her at a kennel, we took Silx, our miniature poodle, along with us. Consequently, after arriving in
The area around the hotel was a mix of older shops and three or four-story apartment buildings. Nothing very interesting at all. The whole area looked as tired and vacant as our motel. The wide street was busy, though, with cars rushing past in their hurry to get someplace else.
Walking the streets of a strange city felt funny. Weird thoughts filled my mind, like: What would happen if I was hit by a car? No one would know how to contact my husband.
On our second walk, I decided to use my time wisely by talking to God. Maybe he'd brought me here so I’d spend some quality time with him! So I said, “Lord, why am I here? Teach me something new. Show me what you want.”
On our third walk, a very short, elderly lady was standing in the middle of the sidewalk leaning on a cane. Her striped brown house dress, bandage-wrapped legs under brown support stockings, and worn bedroom slippers made her look out of place, perhaps even lost. But her face was nicely made up, her short brown hair neatly combed, and her eyes alert and intelligent under the heavy lenses of her brown-framed glasses.
Not a bag lady. Perhaps someone who lived in one of the apartment buildings.
When Silx and I came close, she spoke. "I wonder if you would help me? I need to get to the other side of the street to my beauty parlor, but I walk so slowly, I'm afraid to go."
It was a strange request, but since she didn't look about to attack me, I agreed. Moving Silx to my left, I took the lady’s arm with my right hand.
She was right. She walked very slowly, shuffling along in the worn slippers. Fortunately, the cars slowed and stopped for us, and we arrived safely at the other side of the street.
Her beauty parlor was about half a block away, so, having no agenda, I walked with her, matching my steps to hers.
Her name was Anna, and she lived in a small apartment with a cockatiel for company. She had come home from the hospital the day before. Apparently the blood wasn't circulating in her legs, and the consequent swelling and burning had caused the worst pain she’d ever experienced. But the doctors had given her medicine to take and a cream to put on, and told her she would recover.
She surprised me when she said she was 81. She looked a good ten years younger. I now felt I understood her eagerness to get to the beauty parlor so soon after being in the hospital.
She said she had osteoporosis, too. But she wasn’t feeling sorry for herself. Rather, she had a ready smile and a, “Well, I’ve made it this far!” attitude.
She raised her eyebrows when I said I was a visitor from
At the door of the beauty parlor she turned to me and said, "Thank you so much for your help. Sometimes I get lonely and it's been lovely to talk with you." Before going inside, she took my hand briefly and added, "God bless you."
Silx and I continued on our walk. But I felt different. I was still in a strange city, but I had found a friend.
More important, through that lady, God vividly illustrated a truth I knew in my head, but not necessarily in my heart. He took me nine hours from home to show me that he really does see not only every sparrow, but also every person in all those faceless cities where I've never been. He knows each person, every single one. And he cares for them the same way he cares for me.
It was a long drive to learn that little lesson, but it’s one I will always remember.