Would You have Noticed Her?
She was moving directly toward us. My husband called my name and said, “Get the camera!” While we were standing on opposite sides of the narrow cobblestone street, he repeatedly pointed down the road and motioned for me to take a picture of an approaching woman. But I couldn’t see her in the congested thoroughfare.
We were in tourist mode. It was our last day in the Old City of Jerusalem, and our senses were heightened to capture every moment and every experience. We’d become somewhat accustomed to seeing Orthodox Jews in their black suits and head coverings, Islamic women in their flowing robes, and Orthodox Christians also in robes of black. Each was an individual worth noticing.
Then she was right in front of me, and I knew why I hadn’t been able to see her before. She was barely four feet tall, dressed in black from the top of her head to her clunky boot-like shoes, and sadly bent in half from severe osteoporosis; I snapped her picture. And then she was past me and around the corner. Laboring with a heavy sack in each hand, she began literally crawling up a set of stairs. All of us who watched were speechless at the sight of her frailty.
Then Erica, a 23-year-old in our group, really saw the old woman. She sprinted up the stairs, got on her knees and began adding fruit snacks and granola bars to the poor woman’s food sacks. My husband moved out of tourist mode, joined Erica and reached out his hands to carry the heavy sacks. Soon the two Americans were helping the unidentified woman up the many stairs.
A few days later on our flight home, I found a fashion magazine discarded in my seat pocket by a previous passenger. With 12 hours to fill, I flipped through the pages. The message screaming from those glossy bright pages was, “How to be noticed.” Wear this style; paint your skin and eyes and nails these colors to attract others.
What a contrast: being noticed or noticing others. Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” (Matthew 25:35). And James said, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, …” (1:27). To visit implies noticing the person, seeing the need, and moving to act.
I saw this woman, but I did not move to act. Clearly all 50 of us did not need to help, but someone did. I wondered why I did not, and it has haunted me.
A new prayer with a new understanding has found a voice in my heart. “Help me to notice and see and act for those You want me to touch.”
Jesus did not touch everyone, but His every step was in obedience to the Father’s leading. May mine be as well.