It is snowing in Chicago, and I’m indoors, observing the flakes from the warmth and safety of a comfy chair. I’ve watched folks trudging down the streets, fighting the wind and cold, and have offered up murmurs of thanksgiving for a cup of hot tea, and the cat warming my lap. My mind wandered back to a day a couple of years ago when I had an early 8 am dentist appointment one Saturday. I’d walked to the dentist (a mere five blocks from my home), but while in the chair, a heavy snow storm hit. Winds picked up. It was near white-out at times.
When I left the dentist’s office, my face was numb: not only from the bitter wind, but also from the anesthesia I’d been given. It had been a lengthy procedure, wherein old fillings from a childhood overseas were removed (having been deemed of poor quality) and replaced with more modern, quality material. As I crossed the threshold out into the wintry mess, I wiped drool from the side of my cheek. Ugh. My eyes had watered during the procedure, and I was very aware of the mascara smudged beneath my eyes. The sting of the wind was making my eyes water more.
I trudged the first block through about 8 inches of freshly fallen snow. Beautiful, really. But I’d not gone prepared, and my tennis shoes were slick and full of snow. I glanced up and saw a man walking my direction and thought great… another one of the neighborhood’s homeless… expecting a handout.
As he approached I attempted to not make eye contact. But he called out to me: “Lady?” I glanced his way.
“Lady… you look really cold. Could I buy you a sandwich? Or a cup of hot coffee?” He pointed at the McDonald’s nearby. And I stood there, gaping at the irony of my situation. I mumbled a thank you, and he led me by the hand over a drift and into the restaurant. I accepted a cup of coffee, and had an interesting conversation with someone from the neighborhood I would never have otherwise met.
He graciously mentioned that it was his faith tradition to help the poor and those in need. I asked him what church he attended, and he pointed to the local mosque. I smiled and mentioned I was baptist. We rejoiced in the commonalities which bridge our faith, our neighborhood, and the human condition.