My wife calls it the Dungeon. It's the dank place we take our clothes to wash, one load at a time. We need to leave our cozy apartment through the back, down the steps overlooking our unprotected car port (it's not a garage, it's a little concrete lot) and down a couple steep steps into a subtarranean lair with low ceilings. I've hit my head on that ceiling a few times. I'm sure I would've stubbed my forehead a few times with the drop-down boards holding up our floor, but I have my ego to thank for keeping me out of danger. (Don't go down there. You don't want to go down there. It's rather foul and dark. You don't know what rodent or plank could be awaiting you.)
On one of my few and oh-so precious days off, the wife has me running errands (which is why I did not disclose this fact to the rest of my family. "Oh, you've got all the time in the world now! Why don't you..."). Well, one specific errand. Laundry to the Lavanderia. All one hundred and three pounds of it down a eighth-of-a-mile trek. Can't complain really, but that's never stopped me before.
As I'm putting the clothes in a large, strapless, torn gym bag and two large garbage bags that should not survive the journey, I listen on my $300 iPod to a sermon by Mars Hill Bible Church's Rob Bell. He's doing a series called, appropriately enough, "Jesus Wants to Save Christians." And the sixth in this series is on the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus' point, Bell argues, isn't to be a "Good Samaritan", but to be a good neighbor, recognizing the dignity and worth of - and actively loving - every person, including those we can't name by name because doing so would give them a pause in our lips (for example, "Oh, you mean, my ex? You mean, those people?") and possibly a space in our hearts and gasp, homes!
At a time when some very specific people are getting on my last nerves and I'm trying to decide how I need to open up my eyes to see the world around me and love "the least of these," I'm making headway into the Dungeon to retrieve our cute little detergent bottle (The real reason the Mrs. needs to buy the concentrated ALL). I open the back door (with no environmental sound, mind you, coming in my direction) to see a suddenly startled lady in dirty baggy clothes pull up herself and her pants from the ground. Just beneath her is a large puddle (hint: it's not rain) and this is all happening in front of the one car that's parked in the back.
I automatically, and just as reflexively as the lady, shut the door and try to hide the shame. I'm in agreeance with myself that maybe I should or could offer some assistance. After all, although there are many diners in the immediate area, the only truly public restrooms are in the parks, and the small one nearby may not be open or hospitable to her or "her kind". I try to calm myself. It's not like I've never seen that before nor that it's wholly unnatural or unexpected. There are a lot of homeless in our immediate area and we live at a pretty busy intersection. But I don't know what to do. Honestly, I knew that she'd have left in a major hurry after hearing the door open, but what if she didn't? What is the proper response? Is there a proper response?
"Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your liver"?