The other night as I was driving home I saw a homeless man standing at the top of the exit ramp that I was on. He didn’t appear to be asking for handouts; he was waiting for traffic to clear out so that he could cross the street. He carried a clear garbage bag that had what looked like clothes in it.
I was ashamed to realize that my first instinct was to look away and hope for the cars in front of me to hurry up and turn so that I could drive away from him. I started thinking about how this was someone’s son, perhaps someone’s father, or brother. I wished that I had some food to give him. I thought for a minute about giving him some money but by then he had moved further away and it was time for me to turn anyway.
I haven’t forgotten him, though.
Tonight I watched a news report about the latest threat to Haiti, a storm that threatens to flood this little nation that’s already been devastated by an earthquake and that is dealing with a cholera outbreak. Hundreds of thousands of people have already died, and many more remain homeless.
As I drove home in the rain I thought about how I had a warm, dry, well-running car to keep me out of the rain. I have a house with a solid roof and walls without holes in them to keep me safe and comfortable. I can afford heat. I have a comfortable bed to crawl into tonight, and more clothes than I can possibly need. I thought about how unfair it is that I live this way, and the people of Haiti (and many other countries) do not have the comforts that I have.
I find myself haunted by faces of the suffering, and unsure of what to do about it. Giving money is certainly an option. But I’m wondering if I’m meant to do something more. More and more lately, I feel an urge to do more than just make charitable donations (although giving financially is still needed). I think God wants me to give more of my time, more of my self. I’m just not sure what that means. He’s giving me a lot to think and pray about.
The lyrics to the song “Whatever You’re Doing” popped into my head tonight. I think the chorus is especially fitting for these thoughts I’m having:
Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly (“Whatever You’re Doing”, Sanctus Real)