I had several topics on cue which I wanted to share in this week’s refection. However, I had an experience in Boston that really resonated and as such decided to prioritize this topic instead.
It was a sunnier day in the city, still cold, but people were happy to be out yet cautious with COVID still a very present scare. You could feel the energy lifting slowly as people dared to hope for easier and warmer days of spring.
And then I saw her. A homeless adult woman leaning and stooped to the side in the foyer at the bottom of the escalator at the Prudential. I paused…her eyes were firmly shut and she had a self-made white ripped bandage covering her nose instead of a mask. Slippers were the only protection for her feet and her ankles were badly swollen and scab covered. She wore several layers, a hat and scarf. Her acute pain was palpable. I felt her suffering. How could we all walk by this person clearly in great distress? She was a daughter to a mother, perhaps a mother to a child. Did she have family? Who loves her? What is her life story?
I continued on concerned I would wake her and gave in to my fear of discomfort.
After a couple of blocks I stopped. I felt deeply that I should go back and offer her some compassion. What would I do? A meal, some money? Everything I considered seemed so insignificant when I thought of her needs. Should I call for help? If so, who? Did I want to disturb what might be her nicest spot for a nap? I found myself thinking through the “what ifs” regarding her responses. Would she be angry? Would she understand me? I resolved to put aside my angst in deference for helping however I could.
My pace quickened and until I found myself running back to the glitz of the Prudential building. As I swung though the rotating doors I noticed that she was gone.
My heart sank. Did someone reach out to her? Did she receive the help she needed? I left feeling sad and ashamed thatI didn’t reach out immediately. I promised to never again walk by another so clearly in pain.
How would we feel in that situation? Circumstances, luck, fate can bring anyone to their knees. The truth is we have no idea what pain created a person’s demise.
As Rene Brown stated in her many Ted talks, “The other shoe is going to drop. It is just a question of when.”
Whether a distressed homeless person on the street, a student sitting alone at lunch block, or someone despondent walking with their head down, let’s reach out and ask “Are you ok?”, “May I help?”.
This compassion and kindness just may save a soul including ours.
Chase asked that “We seek out and lift those in need”. He noticed the subtleties of others suffering.
I feel we are all interconnected in this vast mysterious web of life.
Empathy, grace and genuine care given shall surely spread greater kindness overall.
Let’s stretch beyond our comfort zone and reach out to those clearly in pain.
Connection, compassion and love…
It’s why we are here.