I’m not sure if my lunch lost its flavor when my Father stopped me dead in my tracks or if it was happenstance. It was one of those moments when I realized with certainty I had failed. I had failed my Father, myself and the woman I watched walking down the aisle to the buffet.
I know her. Her smile is one like an angel’s, her eyes like pools of chocolate. The prettiest eyes a human could wish for. See, I went to school for twelve years with her. This particular girl, I will call her Ruth (not her name) was in special ed. Most didn’t seem to befriend her although there may have been people who did. I spoke in passing but I never got to know her. You know, there’s that hierarchal social ladder that is forever in place in school. I hate that ladder, by the way….
Anyone who knows me knows I was always the kid for the underdog and if you were smart you didn’t and still won’t make fun of anyone in my presence that has any kind of disability or oddity about them. I didn’t and don't really care if it's the poor kid being picked on or the kid who was ostracized because no one liked the sound of his laugh or the kid who smelled really bad because he was neglected by parents; make fun…and I can become as mad as a hornet in a flash. I have a heart for people who don’t fit in and sometimes that lands me in trouble.
Forward to the present…The minute I saw her, something stirred in me. There was that little voice that resonates in the quietest of ways… “She’s one of mine. What did you do for her? Why didn’t you be her friend?” The questions hammered against my heart like a beater on a bass drum. I had no answers. Questions kept flooding my mind. “Did she realize we didn’t include her? Did she notice that she was snubbed? Was she lonely? Why did I not be a REAL friend to her?” I felt utterly and completely ashamed. It’s these moments that make me wish the clock could be reversed and have a do-over dial. I have the feeling, me being her friend probably wouldn’t have been any where near as rich of an encounter as having HER be MY friend. Truth is, she may have been perfectly happy and contented, and that still would not excuse my failure to befriend her.
I followed her to the food bar, spoke to her, reminded her of where I knew her from, and told her I wish I had taken the time to know her better in school; very little in comparison to what should have been… There’s much more to this woman than I saw walking the halls of the school. Honestly, I hope the feelings of guilt stay with me for a long time…reminding me, every person counts. Every person deserves to be given a chance to belong.
I’ll look more closely at the people I meet. I don’t want to stand guilty again knowing “When you’ve NOT done it unto the least of these you’ve NOT done it unto Me” -Yahushua.