If the walkway was an ice cream cone lying on the floor, I was at the opening and she was sitting on top of a mess dripping from the pointy end. Sprawled out on a blanket with fragments of life strewn about. A hollow shell of a human causes pedestrians to detour off a familiar path lest vulnerability stick to the bottom of their souls.
“Spare some change?” she repeats as people hustle past in guarded silence.
How does that happen? How does reality shift from sitting on top of a bedspread in a home to spreading out a blanket and making a bedroom of a busy street?
Slowing down my hurried pace, I reach inside my purse feeling for loose change, turn around, and walk back.
Bending over with fist outstretched, I make eye contact with blue the shade of London sky on a clear, sunny day. She forms ten dirty fingers into a makeshift cup with a stub of a smoking cigarette sticking out.
Collecting the small offering I release from my hand, she smiles revealing a row of missing front teeth and says, “Thank you so much, bless you.”
I know what people say about giving money to the homeless. Don’t do it. You don’t know how they will use what you give.
Shame didn’t stop me in my tracks searching my pocketbook. Sympathy didn’t cause me to empty my wallet. On week three of A Sabbath Journey for Lent, the practice of resting my feet has allowed me to actually see people instead of looking past them.
Slow down long enough to make eye contact and empathy erupts. I see people as I see myself – broken and deeply loved.
Assumptions made in haste turn down the volume of God’s voice to a deafening silence.
“Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 7: 23-24
The way forward is to look directly into the needs of others and recognize the needs you don’t want to acknowledge within yourself. That’s why people who choose rest as a rhythm of life are some of the bravest people I know.
Sabbath is eye contact with God. He bends over the messy mundane and waits for us to look up.
“Busyness can be avoidance instead of preparation. We’ve been busy with lots of things – running errands, decorating rooms, cleaning up messes, and cooking special food . . . everything might be ready, but emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, we are not. Ironically, busyness in the wrong things ultimately leaves us completely unprepared for what is most important.” Rhythms of Rest
Pause and see a homeless woman who was once a little girl with hopes and dreams; a woman with eyes that still reveal a little lost girl needing rescue from herself. A woman with the core need like my own — to know that value and worth are not defined by what we have but in Christ’s shed blood alone.
The time we “give away” is small change in comparison to what we receive in the gift of Sabbath.
“To love and be loved and to know and be known comes from resting feet, sitting still, and making eye contact with God.” A Sabbath Journey for Lent
As you rest your feet as a surrender during Lent, what are you seeing that you hadn’t noticed before? How has slowing your pace changed the way you see God afoot in the details?
For weekly encouragement to persevere in making rest a reality, join the Sabbath Society. Find us in community with hashtags #SabbathSociety, #RhythmsofRest, and #SabbathforLent. Engage in conversation during the week on Instragram and Facebook.
What an absolutely poignant post, Shelly. And the accompanying photos? Sigh-worthy.
This, among other words, I will be thinking about today: The way forward is to look directly into the needs of others and recognize the needs you don’t want to acknowledge within yourself.
Oh my Natalie, you humble me, thank you. Always lovely to see your presence here and in my inbox. Thanks for being my friend!
Shelly, You have given me more than pause today:
“Sabbath is eye contact with God. He bends over the messy mundane and waits for us to look up.”
“To love and be loved and to know and be known comes from resting feet, sitting still, and making eye contact with God.”
“The time we “give away” is small change in comparison to what we receive in the gift of Sabbath.”
Thank you for these.
LORD, help us slow down – meet with you – then reach out with your love to hurting people.
Katie, praying that those words and phrases will continue to stir up what God started as you read them. Thanks for being here.
Love those words… “Sabbath is eye contact with God.” Beautiful image. Praying for you and all of London today in the aftermath of that horrific event yesterday. His Ps 91 angels surround you…
Thank you Pam.
“The time we “give away” is small change in comparison to what we receive in the gift of Sabbath.” Beautifully-expressed truth, Shelly, that I’ve tried to put into practice–sometimes better than others. Not long ago on a solo trip cross country involving a layover, I made a point to make eye contact and call a cheerful hello to the woman cleaning the restroom and two ladies cleaning a waiting area. I thanked them for their service, and all three brightened, then happily chatted with me a few moments. My hope is they experienced a bit of uplift that afternoon. Of course, I came away blessed as well! ‘Love that explanation of Sabbath as eye contact with God. Also beautifully-expressed truth!
Isn’t it amazing how a kind word, a bright smile, and making eye contact with someone makes a difference? We use so much time trying to make the world a better place and maybe a better world comes when we live better every day by looking at people instead of past them.
Thank you SO much for this Shelly. I have just now subscribed to your emails and am looking forward to starting to put Sabbath into practice in my own life. I just bought Rhythms of rest at a clergy wives conference with Christine Perkin. Do you know her? And I am loving it and quoting it to everyone who comes to visit me (I am recovering from foot surgery so have lots of time to read which is such a blessing). My husband is a Vicar in South London so I need to pick another day but am excited at trying to work something out.
Sabbath is eye contact with God is going up on the pin board in my den 🙂 Thank you