Yesterday I saw a person begging on the street corner. My usual response is to look away and pretend I didn't see. Don't stare, you know, it's not polite - unfortunately, that same adage of virtue can be a vice when we cease to see the people behind the traumatic scene.
As I approached, I thought of what my priest, Peter, has said about people who come to the church looking for money. Sometimes the church doesn't have enough money to really make a difference in a person's crises of a life. Sometimes the only thing to say is, "God bless you."
To look at someone and know that you don't have any money to give, whether it is because plastic has become the new currency, or because we ourselves are in the middle of our own financial crisis, is a hard thing. It is much easier to look away and pretend that everything is fine in your world.
One of the baptism commitments is to see Christ in all persons and to try to seek and serve them. It is much easier to see Christ in the Pope, the Dalai Lama, or any other good religious leader. It is easy to see Christ in the person who pays it forward. It is easy to see Christ in the firefighters, the police, or any other public servant. It is more difficult to see him in the homeless, the gay, the transgendered, the addict. It is easy to love loveable, socially accepted people! It is trickier to love the mentally ill, destitute, or those who do things contrary to what we deem as righteous.
So, as I approached this woman, this daughter of God and daughter of two mortals somewhere who love her, I chose to see her. I chose to ask God's blessing to be upon her. "God bless you!" is what I called out my window. She returned a blessing right back at me, loud and vocal, "God bless you too!"
I hope that she felt my concern that I had for her. I hope that she knew that I was giving the best that I could at that particular moment. I hope that she felt seen, respected, and validated. And I hope that God blesses her through others to have the things that she needs.
God bless you, too.