She sort of garnered attention.
In the middle of our local library, nearly tipping out of the computer chair, one hand dragging on the floor, slumped in a deep sleep.
I gave a quick look around.
Anyone else notice how lifeless this woman looked?
But everyone around her was either submerged in their work, or paying no attention while browsing the shelves.
Maybe I’ll notify someone at the front desk that in the 20 minutes I’ve been here, she hasn’t moved one iota out of her dangerously-close-to-hitting-the-floor slump.
She’s right where everyone who comes in can see her.
Staring, judging, snickering, head-shaking, they all pass.
Someone will take care of it.
I read once in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books about reactions to crime and the lag in response to any emergency when people are surrounded by other people. Everyone assumes someone else is already doing something about it, and so no one reports the crime or responds to cries for help.
I start to approach the desk and I hear them. It’s two guys asking one of the librarians if the woman is okay. But it’s scorn on her face as she rolls her eyes and says, “just another drunk or junkie. If she’s there at my next break I’ll have her kicked out.”
Some jokes fly, some insults are piled on.
I’m wondering what my next move will be, standing there in Books starting with the letter M, when I hear the other librarian approach.
He only takes in the awful and hard conversation for a second and leans around the counter to get a look.
Yep, she’s still there. Unmoving.
And then I watch as the combination of the good Samaritan and the golden rule mesh into the most moving response.
He grabs one of the low leather reading chairs and drags it across the whole library floor to a quiet corner in the back. He lowers the blind in the window to darken the corner. He disappears only to return with a bottle of water and he sets it on the ledge beside the chair.
Not even glancing at the others at the desk, he gently approaches the woman and taps her lightly on the hand dangling over the floor.
I find myself so relieved that she blinks and speaks softly, that I exhale. I don’t hear their conversation until just as they pass me, him leading her gently by the elbow, carrying her bag.
She’s trying to apologize, that she has a condition, and that she can’t attempt to go home until it passes but she’s so sorry….
And then he’s showing her the chair, and assisting her into it, and handing her bag to her, and showing her the water bottle, and pointing to the desk where he works.
She blinks at him and whispers thank you.
And I’ll I can hear as he finishes settling her in are the words, “Just rest, honey…”
And the words could have come from Christ himself.
“Just rest dear one.”
So much grace.
Given with a serving of dignity.
It’s the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…”
The scene stayed with me for weeks.
And it drove me to the Word.
And in Luke chapter 10 I can see the same scene play out.
Starting at verse 30 we see it. A man lying half dead in a common road and no one stops to see if he needs help.
One decides to do what we would hope anyone would do, were it us in the ditch needing help.
Doesn’t just offer to go for help on his way into the town gates.
Doesn’t just help him out of the sun and offer him some money for if assistance happens by and then leaves him.
And certainly doesn’t lecture about the dangers of traveling alone or what preventative measures he could have taken first.
He does everything possible to make it right. Showing concern for a stranger. Showering grace. Seeing to healing and safety. Restoring dignity. A literal example of the Golden Rule.
And then an example of Christ’s act on the cross.
I always knew Christ was telling the story inside a teaching moment.
But don’t miss it. A little foreshadowing takes place.
He’s the ultimate man on the road, the good Samaritan. We are found battered and bruised. Life had tossed us aside and left us for dead. And He stops for us. Binds us up. Restores us with His grace. Heals with His Cross. And saves us from certain death.
In verse 37, when asked who the loving neighbour was, the law expert Jesus was teaching answers with, “The one who had mercy on him, of couse.”
The One who had Mercy on us asks that we be like him.
And do the same.
I know we’re pressed for time.
I know we have our own troubles.
I know some of these people seem unworthy and none of our business.
But Christ makes them our business.
“Lord, I need You to make me sensitive to Your acts of grace. Of kingdom kindness. Break my heart with what breaks Yours is no longer a lovely platitude but what drives me while I come and go!”
How else will anyone see the kingdom waiting for them if we don’t reveal it through our kindness and grace?
The grace that all started on a cross and the grace that was bought for us at great price and the grace that poured out of the tomb with the light.
It starts with little acts and the words, ” just rest, honey…”
I want to make everyday about the good, the golden, and the grace payed forward. How about you?