I was driving on a busy four lane highway today going from lunch with a friend to my church. This is the kind of road where no one slows down for anything. People pass and bounce from lane to lane without benefit of blinkers or common sense. The speed limit seems to be posted so everyone knows to go just a bit faster. There are lights along the way and there must be a prize for running the yellow light, even if it means being in the intersection after the light turns red.
I was shocked when all the tail lights on the cars ahead of me in both lanes came to sudden stop. I didn’t see anything ahead and wondered why we all stopped so suddenly. I checked the rear view mirror to be sure the car behind me was aware that my car was at a dead stop.
Up ahead I saw what looked like the front of a broken shopping cart coming across the front the cars at the beginning of the line. I watched closely and then realized it was a broken walker with a very old man pushing it across the highway. He walked so very slowly and I am not sure how he got into the road at all since traffic is usually pretty constant. He had only one good arm; the other seemed to be at an angle as if he had an injury or perhaps the remnants of a stroke. He walked with a bit of a limp, as well. The walker had front wheels, but there where no wheels on the back of this particular type of walker. It was obviously not made for long walks and definitely not for pushing across a busy highway. He made it past the cars and reached the safety of the grass median. However, the grassy area made it harder for him to push and maneuver.
My heart ached as a watched his broken body push the feeble walker. There was no expression in his eyes or face. It appeared that his spirit was broken as badly as his body. The cars started to move and I had a battle raging in my head. I wanted more than anything to pull my car into the grass and see if I could help him. The logical side of my brain wondered how in the world I could help. What if he was violent? What if he was mentally ill and didn’t understand my gesture or offer of help? What if he was sick and I was exposed by approaching him. Would I offer him a ride? What would I say?
I kept driving, made my turn and pulled into a parking lot for a moment to continue the battle. I fought tears as I wondered if this man had family or food or even a place to stay. I certainly had nothing I could offer him. My finances are tentative enough without trying to help someone else. Maybe I could go back and just say a kind word to him. The logical side of my mind wondered what good that would do. Sure…go and say, “Hi, I saw you struggling to get across the road. I don’t have anyway to help you but just wanted to say Howdy!”
In the end, I didn’t turn around. I don’t know why this man touched me the way he did today. I did say a prayer for him and have had him on my mind all afternoon. I will continue to lift him in prayer tonight. I shared some things that have been going on in my life recently in my blog post yesterday, yet seeing this man today reminded me that I have so much in my life for which I am grateful. I still have concerns and worries about what comes next for me. His life doesn’t change that, but it does remind me of all that I have. I know there are many other broken people in my world. I can’t help them all, but I can remember to share a smile or be kind to those who are placed in my path. I can get out of “self” and be mindful of others.
I have been broken in many ways throughout my life-spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. There have been times I felt so very broken and prayed for someone to smile at me or just give me a hug. There were times I couldn’t pray and others prayed for me. I have turned away from those who loved me only to find them waiting when I turned back around. I have been blessed in this life. I don’t know the life journey of the man I saw today. I don’t know if he has friends or family or anyone to help him in his brokenness. All I did for him today was pray…I wonder if that was enough.