As I was coasting through, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman sitting on top of some duffel bags. No hat. No gloves. It was 3 degrees out. She looked like, in my quick glance, that she was crying.
I kept going because it was such a fleeting moment. Plus I was in a hurry.
As I drove away my mind was processing what I saw. Was she really crying? Who sits outside in the snow and cold for no reason? She was probably just waiting on someone. She probably wasn't crying she was probably laughing...
And I turned around and came back.
She was homeless. She had no hat and no gloves and she wasn't waiting on anyone and she was crying. Her boyfriend had thrown her out of the house. She had no one to turn to. She had given up.
I got her some food in the food pantry and then she stayed the night on a cot in the Church. She went to a friend's house in the morning.
I am NOT sharing this to build myself up...I've KEPT DRIVING in similar situations WAY MORE than I've turned around.
I share this in order to pass on a couple of observations
1) I think it was easier to turn around because it was Lent. I was doing my small little fastings/penances that day, and I was a little more tired, a little more beat down myself, and something about that made it easier to reach out to her
2) I think in the same way that we drive away from the poor, we also drive away from God. Didn't Christ say "if you want to see my face, help poor people"???
3) Lent is the season for "turning back around" whether to help the poor or to turn back to God...even if we've been driving quite a long time in the opposite direction.
"Yet even now," declares the Lord, "Turn back to me with your whole heart, with fasting, tears, and mourning." - Joel 2:12