Friday, 31 August 2012
A Butterfly at my Gate
So as I am busy making this and getting everything ready for the class, and as usual running short on time, there is the noise of somebody scratching on our gate and calling for attention. Immediately I am irritated, but nevertheless I go to the door and look out. At the gate is a middle aged woman, no teeth, with short thin grey hair. She asks if I don't have a few pieces of change for her so she could go buy some food. I asked her if she wanted food, to which she replied she wanted a bit of money. Now, annoyed, I answered her that I don't keep money in the house, partly true, but more true is the fact that my husband and I have long ago decided that we'll rather give food or clothing instead of enabling somebody to buy cigarettes or alcohol. So without any further ado I closed the door and went back to my task. The woman soon forgotten.
A while later my friends arrived and after joyous greetings and excitement sat down to our celebratory meal. It was then that the woman at my gate made her reappearance - in my mind. Here we were, eating a delicious breakfast with enough left over to share with another person. Did she have anything to eat, not just today, but yesterday? What did it cost her self-esteem to knock on my gate? What would it have meant to her if I had invited her in to share our meal? I could have, I was not alone, I had protection. What if it was me?
I tried to see if I could see her somewhere down the road, but she had gone by that time. What if she were an angel and I have missed a chance. Indeed, in my heart I know that I've missed a chance, an opportunity to do good. Even if she did not want food itself, I could have taken a moment to fill a bowl with fruit in any case, maybe if she saw it she might have changed her mind. Just one moment to reach out, just a small smile or word of kindness - what ripples could that have send into the universe?
It brings me back to a favourite word of mine - choices. Yes, the choices she had made in her life brought her to my gate, but it is not for me to judge. I, however, also had a choice, and this morning, in my haste, I chose not to make a difference, I chose to avert my heart, I made a decision to do nothing. Could I have that moment over, I would do it differently, even if the answer was the same. I realise it was not just my haste which is to blame, but fear as well. We live in a violent society and we are afraid that we might be attacked, we are afraid of getting involved and we are scared it might ask something of us. It is sad that we, as the only mammals truly capable of compassion, are too frightened to show it, too afraid to be that good Samaritan.
I pray that the tattered butterfly who came to my gate today will cross the path of a kinder heart next time, and will find a soft place to put her head tonight. I hope the season also turns for her tomorrow, and that Spring will lift her spirit up to the sun.
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