And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more [important] than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.
~ Mark 12:33I met him yesterday. I watched as he tried to speak to people but they either did not hear him or choose to not engage with this troubled man. His clothes were dirty, ripped and torn, His shoulders were slumped, his head lowered as he teetered back and forth precariously on the curb. As I got closer to him I noticed that he wore both a large cross and a pentagram around his neck. His cheeks were sunken in and he had large sores on his hands and face and I wondered when he had last received any medical attention. Everything about this man was difficult to look at. He looked beaten by life and without any source of hope. I could not understand what he was asking me but then he abruptly stopped and pointed to the word "bible" on my book. I tried asking him if he had ever read the bible but again incoherent words tumbled from his mouth. He stopped and I asked him, "What do you need?" He asked for money, almost falling off the curb and into the parking lot. "I don't want to give you money but you look like you could use a coffee." I said. He still did not look up. "When was the last time you ate?" "How about I get you a meal."
When I came out of the store he was not in the same spot that I left him and I wondered if he had moved on. But a second later I noticed him on the other side of the parking lot this time. It took me a while to get him to understand that the meal was for him. I got him to sit down on the curb and as I knelt beside him and opened his coffee lid and got his food ready for him, I was at a loss as to what else I could do. I tried again to ask him his name and to talk and ask about the bible hoping that I could offer him some encouragement and hope. Strange and incoherent words again tumbled from his mouth and I am not sure if they were from his inebriation or if he was also mentally ill. I finally left him there on the curb, in the sunshine, drinking his coffee and eating his chili. As I walked away, I was praying that God would have mercy on this man. Since that meeting yesterday his image is never far from my mind. I wonder if I could have or should have done more? Is there a way I could have shared the hope I have for my life that could have broken through his hopelessness? Again I am left wondering how do I love my neighbour well?