Posted on Monday, March 30, 2015 in Uncategorized
A long day had become a longer night. It was by then a cold and snowy night.
As they often do, snow-covered roads made driving a challenge. And, more than once I heard the rattling sound of my anti-lock brakes trying to slow my slide.
It was 11:00 P.M. and the roads were empty. I saw no one until I bent around the right curve of Brookdale Drive. There walking on the snow-covered sidewalks was a man. We traveled in the same direction.
Though he wore a coat the man clearly had strong, broad muscular shoulders. In another setting he might have been imposing. Walking along alone in the silence of the snowy night he did not seem scary. In fact, he seemed vulnerable.
As the man walked he carried a fifty-gallon garbage bag. The bag was filled full. Even at thirty miles an hour I could tell that this bag of belongings burdened the strong man.
As I passed I felt the grasp of compassion fill me. I drove another hundred yards and turned around. I could not drive away from this man.
Turning my car around I headed back toward the man. I turned the Brookdale Drive curve and I saw the man. Overcome by weariness he had put the bag down. I pulled my minivan over.
“Would you like a ride?” I said.
With effort he picked up his bag.
I waited for him to arrive.
When he reached my minivan he opened the sliding door to set his bag down. Though he did not drop it, when he released his grip on the bag it landed with a heavy thud. This was a heavy bag. And, frankly, much to my delight it sounded like it did not contain a dead body.
While he sat down I said, “Hi, I’m Scott.” Through thick sweet alcohol-filled breath the man replied, “I’m Jerry. Thanks for stopping.” You’re welcome,” I said through my smile.
I turned the minivan around and asked where he was headed. Expecting to drive him to the bus station or another place some distance away Jerry simply said, “The gas station up there.”
“Okay, that’s fine, but they are about to close.” I cautioned.
“I have a ride coming.”
Persistent I asked, “Are you sure?” He was.
I drove the half-mile to the gas station. It was closed. Jerry didn’t mind. He seemed to have other concerns on his mind other than his comfort.
“Jerry, where would you like me to drop you off?”
In a definitive guy-kinda-way he said, “Anywhere will be fine.”
I pulled up to the most sheltered area and pulled over. Finally in the dimmed light of the darkened gas station I looked at Jerry. He seemed to have a trail across his face. “A scar?”, I wondered silently.
Jerry expressed genuine gratitude and opened the door. Then — lit by the interior lights of the van — I could see that Jerry did not have a scar. He had a trail of thick, fresh blood winding across his face. Without staring I could see that blood had also run from his mouth recently. His lips were sticky with blood. Most of all I saw that his ear had recently held an earring. It was gone. All that remained was a bloody hole.
Jerry stepped out of the van. “Thank you Scott.” He repeated again. With great effort Jerry picked up his bag which appeared to contain all of his belongings that he could carry.
We said our goodbyes and I drove away.
Tonight, because I did not feel that this large stranger would harm me, I gave him a ride. I would not have wanted any female friend or family member to take the same risk.
Last week I introduced this series on detours. This was a detour of compassion. Jesus Christ explained the value of compassion to his followers, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'” 1
#mysilentscream: Detours of compassion are counter-cultural; let’s take them anyway.
In the comment section tell us about one of your detours of compassion.
1 – Matthew 25:40, MSG