Friday, February 4, 2011
My Nanny McPhee
My entire life I have feared the impoverished and disabled. I always dreaded the youth group trips to the old folk’s home. I avoided the mentally disabled girl a year older than me in grade school. Still at the age of 42, I have a major hang up with God’s Special Children. I do believe they are amazing, I just don’t know how to act around them unless I already know them.
Quite a few years ago when my boys were in grade school and my daughter wasn’t born yet, I was at the county library browsing for a novel or two. A scary looking creature came up to me and started talking. She is medium height and squat with graying hair. She has a purple bulbous nose with quite a lot of chin hair. One of her eyes only opens when she works a little harder to raise the lid. My best comparison is she is an older version of Nanny McPhee. I am so shallow that I haven’t watched those movies because of the way Nanny looks. She told me numerous stories and jokes. Much to my relief she wandered off.
This past May when I retired I began hanging out at the library again doing research on different writing projects. The same creature surprised me by stopping to talk again. Dread and impatience filled me. She must have realized I was in a hurry. She left with a lame excuse from me. Throughout the summer I saw her a couple more times at the library, park, and on the sidewalk at a coffee shop I go to weekly. Each time I saw her I hid my nose in a book or fiddled with my keys to avoid eye contact. Each time I felt guilty. Was she Jesus? Was I avoiding a task God was sending to me?
Yesterday, God game me another opportunity to reach out to her. I went to the library to do a little work in-between 4th Day Group and mass at the Cathedral. She walked by and instead of looking down; I smiled and then looked down. This gave her all the encouragement she needed.
“Hello, can I ask a favor of you.”
“Yes,” I said with another smile.
“Could you spare five minutes to talk with me?”
I agreed. For the next five minutes we chatted. She did most of the talking about her past of living through a car accident, the death of her mother, and a bout with some major drinking. She asked me questions and politely listened.
As she got up to leave, she asked me one more question. “Would you say hi to me the next time we meet?” What a small humbling request. I told her I would try and she went on her way.
I am sure God will have her cross my path again. I hope I have the grace to smile and say hello. I also hope I remember to ask her name. This journey will take me far outside my comfort zone. I will definitely not be the next champion like Mother Teresa, but I might be able to make a little difference. Or God could humble me by having the lady make a difference for me. Either way, I am a bit excited and a bit scared.
So, tell me, is God setting you on a task that you find difficult?
Blessings to you all.