July 10, 2009 was a hot day, but my travels took me to a neighborhood that is worlds away though only twenty miles. As I drove away from my meeting, I noticed a homeless white woman sitting next to the building. For no reason, she flipped me off. Despite the racial divide, I empathized with this woman’s discomfort. Something compelled me to buy her a big bottle of cold water and a bowl of fruit. I had to ask the clerk for a spoon because they don't leave them out in this neighborhood like they do in my neighborhood.
I drove back to where the woman was still sitting, got out and handed her a bottle of water and the fruit bowl. I told her that I was not her enemy and that not all people were bad; she just started shaking and crying so I put my hand on her shoulder . She continued shaking and started crying so I asked her if she were going to be alright. She continued to shake so I reiterated that not all people are evil and got back in my truck and drove away.
I wasn’t sure how I affected her but she certainly changed me. I’d never appreciated how fragile most people are but in a moment, I discovered my humanity.
A month later I was at the same spot when I thought I saw the same woman. I could not be sure because she was clean, neatly dressed, and walking with her head held high. She immediately recognized me though -- she was the woman to whom I gave the water and fruit. We spoke briefly and I asked her how she was and she said she was off the streets. I asked her again if she was okay and she smiled and told me that she was okay; she was back with her family. Then she went on her way and I went mine.
As I got into my truck it dawned on me: I made a positive difference in someone’s life and it cost me less than $5.
I’ve worked with gifted students, future scientists and engineers. My husband and I transformed our severely brain-damaged, blind son into a very healthy, intelligent, articulate and sighted 12-year old.
Who would have guessed that touching a stranger would transform me? With her, I reclaimed my humanity. That’s my miracle.