The other day I passed a beggar, a very deformed beggar. He was sitting, more like slumping, on the sidewalk with a blanket in front of him. A big pile of money collected as people seemed to automatically dropped coins and bills as they walked past. I watched many people drop money. One couldn’t help but have compassion. I myself have never seen such a grotesque body, personally. I tried not to stare as I wondered when was the last time someone touched him. Ate with him. Spoke to him. The sun was hot and beat down on his bulging back. There was no relief. Just money.
Nearby was a stand where I bought mango juice and bananas. As I approached him, I was compelled to sit down next to him and look him in his face. It meant bending down and looking up because of his deformities. There I greeted him in the name of God. I shook his hand and held it as is the custom here. He smiled as he drank his juice and tucked his bananas away. Together we put his paper money in his bag to keep from thieves. All the while attempting to communicate.
Surrounded by the movement of the bustling street, I could feel the eyes on me. I was a stranger in this land doing a strange thing. But for him, this was his life. As I sat with him, someone shared their umbrella with him to shield the sun; and many others dropped even more money. Lots of money came floating down.
Quite frankly, I would have rather dropped money and kept walking—as I have done so many times before. But this time God wanted me to touch him and to sit with him and share in his humiliation. This time I was to be a friend.
It was an honor.