I met her last week. She smiled. She hovered off to herself. She watched others. She pretended to be invisible, and looked away when I glanced at her.
She appeared to want to interact but kept her ‘force field’ of quietness and aloofness intact. And didn’t talk to anyone.
But since I come without any filters, I pretty much felt like she had a radar beacon on her head calling me to her. And I was zooming in for the “hello” and for the “I’m Pam, how are you?”
So when I did just that, her beacon light seemed to dim, and her grin grew into an inviting smile as if she thought I came with cookies and milk and fun. Now I had no cookies, no milk, but as for the fun, this comes easy for me.
In seconds we were laughing, she was stuttering some, not because she does, but her words got caught in five sentences exploding from her mouth all at once. She shook her head, “So, you’re Pam?”
“I am. Have you ever come to Church under the Bridge on Saturdays?”
“No, I come here to eat,” she pointed to the shelter. “I should come sometime.”
“I’ll be there Saturday. Come see us.”
Before I finished chatting with her, I gave Maddie (not her real name), one of my little scripture cards. I asked her if she ever memorized verses, and shared Nora’s story of memorizing Romans 8, Romans 1, and Romans 2, my dear homeless friend at the camps.
She assured me she was going to memorize the one on my card, and share it with me Saturday. I told her, “I’ll have some McDonald’s gift cards,” and that I’d give her one when she shared the verses.
(Before someone reading this story judges me for bribing her, please don’t. Because if I can help someone get the Word of God in their heart, it’s not a bribe. It’s a seed that gets planted. And that’s always good!)
Well this morning, she came to the bridge service, and passed my car riding her bike as I pulled up. At one point she moved from her seat during service, and came and stood with me, offering me the first move, a hug that swallowed me up. I must have had my beacon light on this time.
Then after service, as chairs were being loaded into the van, and as cars loaded up and people left, as homeless friends sauntered down trails, and as some lingered; Maddie recited the verses to me saying them first in KJV, then in ESV, and then in using those two versions and the NIV.
She noticed how one version used ‘through,’ another the word ‘by’ and even a few other phrases used different synonyms … but what I loved is when she got to the part of “by grace you are saved” she would shout, “YES! I AM!”
We talked for minutes upon minutes, and several people wandered over to hug me and say goodbye, and my little “beacon” friend hovered next to me. We were two beacons together.
She’d thanked me for the conversation and for talking to her. And for seeing her the other night, when she felt like no one cared. For noticing her when she felt so plain. She told me, “I stand there at night with so many others, and no one sees me. But you did. Why did you even talk to me?”
I held her hand, and put her palm to her chest. “Because the Lord gave you a heartbeat, and He’s given you life in Him. And I needed to be your friend.”
“Friend? We’re friends now?”
“Yes, I’ll be in town Tuesday. Let’s talk some more.”
Her giggle came with, “Let me show you this first.” She opened her Bible, the one given to her from a friend who died, and showed me how the verses I had on my little card were highlighted in her Bible, too. “These scriptures are pretty special to me.”
I touched her arm. “And you my friend are special to God.”
She rode off on her bike, clutching her bag, and smiling like she no longer felt invisible. And the beacon coming from her now, well, it spoke of how God’s mercy and grace had called to her under a bridge on a beautiful morning.
I simply watched her and relished the moment and enjoyed seeing her glow with hope! In knowing she knew Christ as her Savior! In having a new friend!