A slightly built woman in her late twenties lay curled in a fetal position on a patch of grass between the sidewalk and a parking lot, just a few doors down from where I live. "Could you call 911 for help?" I asked someone going by with a cell phone. Two blocks away, a fire siren began signaling a response. A situation like this in today's downtown is usually drug-related. How to help?
Although in my walker, I was unable to give any active help, nevertheless, I was concerned about first responders disrespecting and misusing force with those they deal with repeatedly. I decided to be a witness to what was going on.
The fire truck arrived and then two cops, who said that they didn't need my help. I resisted. "We've dealt with her before," a fireman said, getting back on his truck. One of the cops bent gently down and asked the woman if she'd like a cigarette.
The other cop motioned for me to move on. I shook my head, no, planted my feet, and began to take mental notes. The woman was sitting up now, smoking groggily. One of the cops pointed to a women's shelter, significantly half a block away. They decided to walk her down to it. "No need for you to stay," the first cop told me over his shoulder, raising the woman to her feet.
His partner took her other arm, and being an obvious fifth wheel, I trailed stubbornly along with my walker, waiting until I saw the shelter door close behind her and the two headed back to their car. Then, I went home and wrote a letter of commendation to the chief of police for their gentleness and respect in this situation, praying for everyone involved.
Luke 10:27,29 – [Jesus] replied, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." … But [the lawyer], wishing to justify and vindicate himself, asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (AMP)
Google's answer is: "Neighbor – a person living near or next door to the speaker or person referred to". A cab driver tells me about his new neighbour who killed his dog, then stole his truck and wrecked it. "When he gets out of jail, he'll still live next door to me." According to one rule of thumb, anyone within a half-block area from where we live is technically our neighbour. A writer on the English constitution calls neighbours "a tyranny — the eye of the man who lives at your door".
When Jesus told us to love our neighbour as ourselves, He didn't add any qualifiers to our responsibility for them. It was enough that we are in contact with them and that they are in need of our help.
Prayer: Dear Father of heaven and earth, You know that these days, we seldom can give hands-on care as the good Samaritan could and did in Bible times. But through Your grace we can bear witness, ensure that proper care is given, and be faithful to support the fallen, those suffering addiction and the pain of this world. How grateful we are that You give us opportunity to be present for our neighbours, doing the day's work that You have allowed us to do in Your name. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Father Lead Me Day By Day" (Lyrics)