Doug is in the midst of jury duty selection this week, so his schedule has allowed for him to be home in the mornings. Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment and because he was home I went by myself while he stayed with the kids. When I returned, he had all three kids out front: Elijah on a blanket trying desperately to eat some grass and Mercy and Aaron running gleefully up and down the driveway. I pulled the car in and joined the party out front.
As we were sitting there together, a young girl came walking down our sidewalk. She was holding a plastic container with dollar bills stuffed inside. It was obvious she was selling something or raising money, maybe for her school or her church. We said hello as she passed, and almost surprised she stopped: “Would you like to make a donation for my brother? He was shot four times and is now blind.”
I looked at her, speechless. I have clear memories from my childhood of walking the streets of my neighborhood asking for money: for school walkathons, or because I was selling Girl Scout cookies, or going door to door with my mom on behalf of the Cancer Society. “I am so sorry,” was all I could think to say.
Doug and I rarely have cash on hand, but my purse was sitting next to me having just returned from my trip to the doctor. I fumbled around inside and found a dollar. “Here,” I said awkwardly extending the bill toward her plastic jar which I could now see had a photograph of a boy taped to it.
“Thank you,” she replied with a huge smile. “Have a blessed day,” and she resumed her journey down our street.
As I watched her walk away, I was overwhelmed with how absurd my gift was. A dollar? It felt so insulting, really. And it reminded me how inadequate I so often feel here faced with so many profound needs. Like today when we saw David asking for money on the off-ramp for our exit. Doug opened our stash of beach-quarters (for parking) and filled David’s cup.
I had to memorize the Beatitudes in Greek when I studied Matthew’s gospel exegetically at Fuller (I was pregnant with Mercy at the time and could barely remember my own phone number so this was no small feat). Blessed are those who mourn…those who hunger. These words haunt me as I marvel at how radically different God’s lens is when he looks at his creation; when he sees South Central. And I cannot help but consider how regularly we reject the gospel because we simply do not believe that such crazy things can be true.