Today, while focusing on my class during recess, I noticed a woman walking towards the church. I immediately observed that as she walked, she also alternately carried or rolled a suitcase behind her. It was folded up flat and it blew around with the wind as she fought with it. The suitcase held a flowery print and it was black in color, it seemed that the two wheels attached to the bag were in good working order. The bag was empty. She had a bit of a messy walk about her. I have no idea whether it was due to her age or if a substance was controlling how she managed herself, but either way her walk caught my eye.
I can’t recall the colors that would reveal how she was dressed or if her shoes seemed decent for the cool 40 degree weather we were experiencing. The aging woman didn’t have a coat on her thin body. She wore long pants and sleeves, this I cataloged in my mind.
It takes a while to walk to the back doors of the church from the rear parking lot. It was a long distance for someone who appeared to have walked her way into the area. There was no need for me or the children to feel threatened. I gave a quick thankful prayer that the food bank was inside and available to fill so many needs. I watched her clear the weed infested crumbling curb without much trouble. She walked the cold sidewalk and entered the double doors like she’d visited the church previously. She walked inside.
I can only assume she was probably feeling relief as the warm air healed her cold hands. I didn’t think of her again. She was out of my sight. I turned my attention back to the children. I found comfort knowing she would be taken care of shortly after finding the correct office.
A few minutes went by, probably fifteen, it would have been less if she would’ve had the ability to walk in a quicker fashion. When she reappeared, faster than I had expected, I was instantly reminded of the hour. I watched her walk away from the heavy church doors. Her head hung down and her bag was no longer being carried by her arms. It was rolling behind her now, bouncing back and forth, from one wheel to the other like an empty trailer being pulled by a truck going way too quickly down a highway. She wasn’t going swiftly, but it was obvious that her temperament had changed. It occurred to me quite readily that she hadn’t gotten what she had walked so far to receive.
The reason her bag was still empty was obvious, and it hit me hard. My heart hurt instantly and still does. She had missed the opportunity to fill her bag due to the time of day. The hours had expired, as well as any chance of finding someone who had the authority to get to where the food was kept. I wanted to run out to her, and ask her if my assumptions were true.
Excuse me, Ma’am? By chance, were you in search of food to fill your bag?
Yes. I will have to try again another day.
No, we’ll go. We’ll fill it together. Just let me get my class. Run quickly little darlings, we’ll just be gone a minute. Let’s go down to the corner, no one will miss us if we just hurry.
No Ma’am, they aren’t all mine. I just tend to them a few hours a day.
Now, do you need three cans of this, how about four of that? We’ll get them all and you can decide how to prepare them. Yes, all of them and I’m very sure.
No, let me handle that.
I enjoyed our ride, too. I must hurry back…
Then, as the children played happily, I realized I was still on the playground, nothing had changed and she was gone. I have no idea if she turned left or right. I’d lost her.
From that moment on, I feared that I should have made the effort to run after her.
I unknowingly had played the moment out in my mind. I watched myself grab her hands as I walked her to my vehicle. I saw myself driving her to the store on the corner. I visioned us walking the isles. I grabbed everything in my immediate space, while dropping items into our cart I encouraged her to get everything she needed. I saw myself checking her out and putting the food inside her bag. I saw myself then driving back to the church and dropping her off right where she had first caught my eye.
I saw her walking away with both wheels on the ground. I saw that the bag weighing her down and settling her path. I watched her walk steadily away. I can’t tell you what her face looks like. I may never forget her walk.
My mind is on rewind. I picture her bag constantly. The knots in my stomach send me to my knees. Who was she, did she have children to feed? A husband too old to walk with her, was he home hungry? What was running through her mind as she walked back the way she came?
I keep replaying this moment today.
Had I grabbed the children and ran after this woman would I be in jail tonight? I assume it was the only fear that I had. It kept me from jumping the fence and pushing a stranger and gaggle of children into my car, as I cried out that we were headed on some sort of field trip.
I find myself no longer being able to sit with myself. I fight the urge to walk the dark streets of a neighborhood, one I know nothing about, in an effort to find her. It seems the only way to forgive myself for not acting out today. In essence, to right my wrong.
That blasted empty bag and crooked walk needed me. I came home and cooked. I stuffed my family full. Portions out of control, it occurred to me that I was trying to find a way to fix how I still felt. What am I to do?
I’d rather remain in bed,
I’m thankful You raise me.
I’m shouting frustrations,
I’m thankful You calm me.
I’m lost and wandering about,
I’m thankful You’re with me.
I’m weak as tears roll down my face,
I’m thankful You see through me.
I’m not who You created me to be,
I’m thankful You stand beside me.
I’m feeling emptiness in my heart,
I’m thankful You work to find me.
I’m content with evilness inside me,
I’m thankful Your grace reminds me.
I have doubts I am who You say I am,
I’m thankful You made me.
I don’t know,
I’m thankful You do.