Opinion

OPINION | Lisa Baker Gibbs: Passerby was angel with message

Bad day better when you share


"Excuse me, ma'am? Do you know where the police station is?" she asked from the sidewalk. She was unkempt from head to toe. Her T-shirt was inside-out and much too large for her slender frame. A bandana was wrapped around her head.

I did not want to engage. My day had gone from bad to worse right out of the gate, and I wanted to keep to myself. I'd only stepped outside for a moment and -- just my luck -- there was another person needing something from me. Well, not today. If she knew what had happened in my day so far, she'd understand I was not in the mood to interact.

I slapped on a smile that betrayed my thoughts. "All the way down there and to the left," I said, pointing in the direction of the station. "At least, I'm pretty sure that's where it is. I'm new here."

"Oh, me too!" she said. "Passing through actually, and someone stole my phone. I know who it was, so I'm going to make a report and hopefully get it back. I need that phone."

I nodded, wished her the best, and pivoted to dart inside my home. But my heart instantly grew heavy.

"Thank you!" she called to me as she continued down Main Street. As she passed, I saw the contents of the cart she pulled behind her – one old gray chihuahua, a half jug of water, and a blanket.

Dang it. I don't want to engage, Lord, and You know that. I just want to be left to my own devices today.

My heart tugged again. DANG IT!

I sighed and ran upstairs, grabbing a plastic sack and filling it with oranges, bananas, mixed nuts, bottles of cold water, and a bowl filled with dog food. I hurried back outside to find her. She was at the intersection, still in sight.

I called to her, held up the bag and pointed to the bench in the alley. "Wanna sit a spell?" I asked.

She smiled and came back.

"You don't want to sit next to me," she said. "I'll get you dirty. I'm having a rough patch right now with cancer, and I got sick on my shirt earlier. I turned it inside out so it doesn't look so bad, but I'm still a mess."

I sat. We talked. She told me of her life -- the triumphs, the losses, the hope eternal. I shared my struggles -- some past, some present. When we parted, we both seemed lighter.

As we sit with family and friends this Thanksgiving, I can't help but think of how, in many ways, I'm like the turkey on the table. I tend to stew in my own juices until God forces me to share myself with another soul. And like a turkey, I often kick and strut and warble in disgust, not seeing the goodness that can come from entertaining angels unawares -- which makes the little devil in me a bit less devilish.


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