Yesterday, I met Jerry Lewis. No, not the comedian, champion for muscular dystrophy, friend of the Rat Pack. Not that guy. The Jerry Lewis I met was indeed funny, quite a character in fact. Unlike the other Jerry though, he is not in the public spotlight. In fact, if you walked by fast enough, you would not even know that he existed. And "Rat Pack" for him has quite a different context.
Jerry Lewis is just one of the thousands of homeless people in this city. We see them every single day as we walk along, taking in all the sights. Some are quietly suffering while others are actively begging for help, some are very vocal as they present their case to a subway car full of people during rush hour. Others are so quiet and still that you are not even quite sure if they are asleep or dead. Like the man I saw lying in a stupor on the sidewalk. A hospital emergency room to his left and a large cathedral to his right were like bookends to this tragedy. Tossed aside, lying in the dirt with his hospital socks still on because either no one cared to know his story or they were sick of hearing it.
My heart is broken into a million pieces as I think about these people. These are fellow human beings, fellow human beings! And I know the tired old conversations and cliches about choices and addictions and blah, blah, blah. I know and I agree, but to see a fellow human being hungry, sick, sweaty and covered with flies, urine and sitting in their own feces, and just walk on by. I just can't stand for it. No.
God bless all of the champions for the homeless. From the large organizations to the individual who offers what he or she can give. A cold bottle of water and something to eat. A listening ear. A call to 911 for medical assistance. Whatever. These are fellow human beings.
There is a story in the Bible. It talks about a woman who washes Jesus' feet at a dinner with a very expensive bottle of perfume. Those around her criticize her and call her wasteful. Jesus comes to her defense. He makes it very clear that no one else had offered him the common courtesy of washing His feet when he entered the host's home. He says that the woman did what she could do. She had perfume, his feet were dirty, she cleaned them. She did what she could.
I want to be like her. I am only one person, I can not save the world, but I can do what I can do. That is my job. Whatever is put before me.
If everyone did what they can do what would happen? Would world hunger end? Would everyone have a home to live in and proper health care? Would sex trafficking be eradicated? Such high and lofty aspirations, right? I will do what I can do. That's what I can do.