My husband and I didn't respond to Hurricane Sandy with the prescribed panic and preparations. I didn't buy any extra batteries, water or canned food. We didn't board up our windows or batten down hatches.
As Sandy rattled our windows and threatened to toss the neighbor's trees into our roof, suddenly I thought of a little old man I see almost everyday on my dog walks. He sits serenely on a wooden bench in the shade beside the public library. Usually, he is surrounded by newspapers and a couple of small, flattened boxes. He's always dressed in the same brown, mid-weight coat, black pants and plain shoes. I don't think he speaks English, because when I nod politely and murmur, "Hello," he just looks simply back at me.
What startles me every time is the shine in his eyes. Blackest black, they glisten in the morning light. I imagine the sparkle belies his situation. Is he homeless, hungry, hot or cold? Does anyone know he's out here everyday? Does he have any family?
One quick dash to our mailbox proved that Sandy was ushering in winter. The temperature dropped to low 40's. The wind whipped and stung as it played pingpong with raindrops. I wondered, Is he out there in this?
The next morning, my dog and I hustled toward the library. There he stood in the narrow doorway, hands in his pockets, elbows locked defensively at his sides. His chin was down as if he could disappear inside his coat collar.
I ran down the hill toward the library and pulled what little cash I had from my pockets. "Here," I said. "Please, go get something warm to eat or drink."
At first he wouldn't take the money from my hands, but I stood for a second, really wondering what to do. He didn't answer me. Finally, his brittle, cold hands wrapped around my own, and cupped the money then slid away, concealing the bills. I touched his arm and said, "God bless you." Then hurried away.
That day, my heart began to simmer in my chest. I wondered helplessly, at first, What could I possibly do?
Romans 12:1 tells us that God has shown us great mercy. And James tell us that mercy triumphs over judgement. To live out mercy, to be a conduit from God's heart to an unjust world, this will triumph.
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