Desperate and Determined
Looking over my shoulder into the shadows I sensed someone was there. There had to be somewhere safe to hide. Someone was following me; I ran swiftly ahead in the dark.
Coming around the side of a building I saw a couple kids huddled together under an eave. An older woman watched over them—they reminded me of chicks tucked safely next to a mother hen—but the woman glared at me with suspicion.
Who could blame her when it was so dark. I tried to squeeze in next to them. She hissed like a cat. I looked at her and then back towards the unknown assailant lurking out there. My eyes pleaded with her to let me stay. Her hand moved swiftly, and a knife was thrust close to my face. I jumped back and started running.
Looking back, I saw there wasn’t one assailant, but two.
My feet sounded loud on the pavement as I ran. The alley was so dark I thought maybe I could hide. Just then someone grabbed my arm and pulled me down into a basement stairwell.
Putting her hand over my mouth, I could tell she wouldn’t hurt me. We froze in place while the men slowly walked past. I was shaking so bad, but the woman just held me close.
This was Cindy’s account of her first night on the streets. She’d run away from living with an abusive drunk—he’d pay the rent, but routinely beat her up—which was the easy part of living with him.
When I met Cindy four years ago (see Homeless not Helpless ) I was rushing to get to my doctor appointment on time. She offered to pray for me. That stopped me in the middle of my frenzied pace. Shouldn’t I have been the one offering to pray for her?
|Vendor selling Real Change /Seattle Photo by Real Change|
Back then she was selling newspapers to work her way off the streets. Real Change gives the homeless newspapers to sell for .60 a piece—anything extra they receive, they can keep.
To me, that seemed like taking the long way home. But not to Cindy. Each day she met the ferry, offering the daily commuters a friendly smile and always a cheerful greeting, rain or shine, whether they bought a paper or not.
On future Seattle visits, I’d sometimes see Cindy and buy a paper. Her optimism was unstoppable. Just as it was when I saw her again last week.
She was talking with a homeless Real Change newspaper vendor. They laughed, and I listened to the encouragement she offered.
She was on her lunch break from her job at Pike Place Public Market. She’s not homeless anymore, and the best part of the new outfit she wore was her amazing smile.
I couldn't help but smile too.
“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” Mother Teresa
Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Isaiah 58:7a