I heard her before I saw her. Actually I had seen her standing in the middle of the restaurant but didn’t know it was the same woman. I could hear her speaking to people behind me and her voice was moving closer. When she was directly behind me I heard her ‘Can you give me a ride back to my house? I live two blocks away and my knees hurt too bad to walk that far.”
Oh no. Please, please let the person behind me say “yes.” Or someone from the restaurant stop her before she came to me. My introvert inner-self was screaming on the inside. My outer self was trying to keep reading on my Kindle and finish my lunch. But I was failing because I couldn’t ignore her now that she was so close to me.
Then she was standing next to me. And she asked me the same question. I swiveled to look at her and it was the woman I had seen a few minutes ago telling the restaurant worker that she couldn’t get into the restroom. It would be difficult to relate the flurry of thoughts and emotions that went through my mind. What came out of my mouth was “Ok, Sit down for a minute until I finish.”
The restaurant worker came about that moment and told her to stop bothering me and the other customer. Too late to rescue me. The woman replied that I had said I would give her a ride. I nodded my assent and told her to sit down.
Why did I say “yes?” I really don’t know… honestly I didn’t want to say it. I had hoped she would pass by or go away. But she didn’t. So out to the car we went together and I asked her how to get to her home. She gave me directions and we started on our way.
“What’s your name?” I asked. “Charlotte” “I’m Randy.”
As we drove down the street, we passed a plain-looking building and she said that was where she walked to get her medicine. And it was much farther than two blocks. I would guess an hour or more walk based on her painful knees and gait.
When we made it to her house, I pulled up in front of what I assume was a group home of some sort. She told me then about reading her Bible every day and praying all night for her knees to be better enough. When she woke that morning she got up, got out, and walked the hour or more to get her medicine and then the additional half-hour or more to the restaurant where I met her.
“I don’t have any money to pay you” she said as we sat in the driveway. “That’s ok – God has given me plenty and gave me a chance to give you a ride today” I said before she could say more.
“Can I give you a kiss?” she said. Like that moment in the restaurant I had an incredibly long internal struggle inside that was still in full force when my mouth said almost without my willing it “Sure.”
She leaned over the console and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She waved as she got out and made her way slowly up the walk to the house.
I don’t know even now a few days later what to think about all this. It raises so many questions and issues in my mind. And I almost acted against my will — certainly against my introverted nature. I am uncomfortable even telling the story.
All that keeps going through my mind are the words of the king in Matthew 25 – ” I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” (Matthew 25:40 CEB)
Maybe her name was really Jesus….