Links in a Fence / Homeless Finger-Hug

I saw him. He stood at the fence, his pants hung lower than they should, and he appeared to speak to someone. But no one was next to him.

I drove on by, a tug on my heart landed like a ball and chain, whipping on my chest; yet, I didn’t stop. I had a list of things to do, places to go, and coffee to drink.

After all, the morning at the bridge was cold, windier than I’d expected and filled with chills and red noses.

The challenge by our pastor, the young man filling in and preaching for Pastor Cody was intense and challenging, especially when he said, “Go, and sin no more.” What gracious words from our Savior in the Word, where He forgives, but he also delivers us from our sin.

So I drove past the fence at the shelter, and I talked to myself aloud, “What are you thinking? This boy is your friend, and the son to a friend of yours? And you can’t stop to speak to him?”

Thankfully, I lost the battle with myself, and turned right at the next corner, rushing back to the fence.

I jumped from my car, and the young man was still in the yard, his pants appeared to droop even more, and for a second, his hand was on the door to go inside.

I yelled, “Billy, wait? It’s me, Pam.”

A man I didn’t know hurried to the fence, “I’m not Billy. So you’re Pam?”

“I am. And you are?” I tried to pay attention to the older man with day-old whiskers, a lonely man in desperate need of conversation. But my eyes were focused on Billy, and his back was to me, and at least, he hadn’t gone into the building, yet.

“You’re the lady who hugs people.”

“How do you know that?”

“Someone said the lady is blonde, and she drives a blue car.”

Smiling, I put my hand on the chainlink fence, “Give me your fingers.”

He smirked, “Why do I want to do that?”

“Well, I can’t give you a proper hug, but our fingers can hug each other. At least, until we meet again.”

So right there, in the chill of the late morning, a new friend, I’ll call him Chester, held two of my fingers. It’s as if he embraced me with his entire weight, a clinching of his grasp cutting off my circulation. Those few minutes in the cold seemed to deposit hope in both of us.

He spoke, “I saw you go by, and I thought, that’s the lady. That’s her. But you went on down the street.”

I choked on my disobedience to God, because I knew when I saw Billy, that I was to stop. I apologized to Chester, “I did drive on, but thankfully, the Lord allowed me to come back. You know, I think it’s the Lord who really saw you, and He probably wanted you to know, that He loves you and is with you today. That you’re not alone.”

Chester sighed, “I do feel alone sometimes, but having you come back did make my day.”

“I’m so glad I drove back around the block.”

“Me, too.” He looked over his shoulder. “Would you like me to get Billy?”

“Sure, if you don’t mind.”

“No m’am, I don’t mind at all.”

So yes, I visited with Billy too, and he spoke with clarity and seemed happy to see me, even though we didn’t have a hug with our fingers.

You know, somehow, I think the man sitting under the shed behind the shelter, leaning on his arm as it rested on the picnic table; that I was to stop and see him first.

So I could give him a finger-hug through the fence. And so God could correct me and use me.

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