Old Lady Walking

Yesterday, I had a working lunch in the food court with friends and colleagues. I know its not an ideal location, but it was centrally located. No comment about the Chinese food – my stomach has already expressed its opinion on my choice of cuisine. As we were sitting there, one of my colleagues pointed out “the lady who walks.” Apparently, she walks. And walks. And walks. Everywhere. All the time. Like all over the city of Savannah and the barrier islands…

So, being naturally curious, I turned my head and, sure enough, she was walking; her life-worn face down but purposeful in her stride. Clutching tightly to a well-used brown purse that I imagined contained the things most precious to her. She spoke to no one; no one approached her or even made eye contact with her. Yet she walked – I think we saw her at least three times during our one-hour lunch.

I could sense my friend’s natural instinct – he wanted to walk with her, find out her story. As a matter of fact, I suspect he would have if we weren’t in a meeting at the time. I also found it hard to concentrate on business – what was her story? Was she walking toward something or away from it? Was there someone waiting to walk with her somewhere? Where was home? Would she walk back there and go to bed happy that night? I was intrigued.

We see people like that all the time – whether they are walking or sitting right next to us. People who stare straight ahead, clutching their lives close to the vest. And what do we normally do? To be honest, I bet most of the time we look away quickly or maybe even change our own direction to avoid them. Maybe we have at least a feeling of sympathy or a passing thought that we should help. Rarely, if ever, do we stop and even speak. Why is that? I think maybe it’s a fear that the aimlessness or despair is contagious so we shouldn’t get too close. Maybe we think someone wants to be left alone, so who are we to invade his or her solitude? Sometimes we think this person is “crazy” and we are fearful to approach. In any event, what would happen if we just walked alongside the old lady walking? What’s the worst that could happen – someone might tell you to go away or scream something crazy at you? (lawyer in me wants to insert a disclaimer – do not try this by yourself in the dark!) But what is the best that could happen? You could make a friend, save a life….

There is a lot to learn from other people. Matter a fact, sometimes I’m the old lady walking. Not really sure where I’m going, but purposeful. Luckily, these days, I’m happy in my walk, but it wasn’t always so. Some days I would really have liked someone to stop and walk alongside of me even if I looked crazy or wanting to be left alone. For me, at least I know that God always walks with me, and I’m walking toward and with Him. Not everyone has that peace, even though it’s available to everyone. I should have found that lady after lunch and introduced her to the One who walks with me.

Fortunately, I didn’t miss my only opportunity. There are many others who are just walking – toward or away from nothing. I’ve got time in my day to tell them who walks with me…

What about you? Who’s your “old lady walking?” What if by just engaging in one simple conversation today, you found yourself smack in the middle of a GodSTOP?? Isn’t it worth the risk?

-Christine

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