The day my friends and I visited Charleston we found street parking near the ice cream shop we wanted to visit.
The meter required actual coins and the four of us were digging around in our bags, searching for quarters and coming up mostly empty handed.
A lady was standing nearby as we hopped out of the car, wallets opened as we searched.
She said words to me but I had no idea what they were. She was rather difficult to understand. I stepped closer to her in an effort to understand what she was saying. The mumbling was so thick her words were basically incoherent. With my ear practically to her mouth, I asked once more, “Please repeat what you said, I’m having trouble hearing you.”
She said, with effort, “Please can you give me money. I promise to buy food. Pease can you give money. I promise to buy food.” And then she said it maybe two more times.
“Oh, look,” I said, “We don’t have any cash – we can’t even find quarters. But we’ve just had a picnic so we have lots of food. Hold on, I’ll get you a bag of food.”
I moved toward our car to get the oranges and crackers and whatever else I could find.
Her face fell. Disappointed. She spoke again. “I’m a diabetic.”
“Okay,” I said. But she was already moving on.
I didn’t have what she wanted.
And I’m not telling this story to point out the sad state this individual had found herself or placed herself or been propelled into.
Because we’re just like her – right?
I mean, I am just like her.
Incoherent. Desperate. Mumbling about what I want. How I want my help to look. What should be happening and what I need.
And sometimes, in so many ways, help is offered.
And I don’t want it.
Not that sort of help.
I don’t want healthy food, I want dollars to feed my addiction.
I don’t want what I need, I want what I want.
In a hundred ways told over a hundred times,
I’m asking for the wrong thing and when I’m offered the right thing I walk away.
That lady is picture of me and of you and of all the ways we turn down the gifts being handed to us.