“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
My heart contracted as she flagged us down. This was going to be a wild one. She looked to be in her 30’s and strung out on something. A splash of naturally red hair cut short, freckles on a very worn face, with eyes that weren’t always steady on you if you know what I mean.
We pulled up to the curb. “Can we give you a lunch?”
She replied, “Can I get a ride home?”
“Sure – come on in.”
We got her on the van, asked her address and started driving toward her home. We prayed…and she cried. She wasn’t quiet. She had lots to tell us. About how she has survived nine years with HIV. About how she is a survivor and strong. And about how everything out there on the streets is fake.
She sobbed and blew her nose noisily, and sneezed several times into the clothes she was rooting through and chose several cute things that one of the young ladies ministering on the van that night had brought out to give. Cute, chic clothes. Clothes purchase a few miles away in a different world and different context altogether.
She told us she had been clean for a year, as her body twitched and her eyes rolled back into her head. She continued to talk but we could not understand everything she said. It seemed like it must have been a while since she cleaned up – her hair was unkempt and there was a lot of dirt under her fingernails.
And my mind traveled back in time to when she was a toddler. Whatever her circumstances, she must have had thoughts like all of us do, about being a ballerina, or a nurse, or a doctor, or like one of my nieces – a grader. I think of a little almost three-year-old red-headed girl – Dia – that comes into the playschool at the church and wonder if that is what Sybil was like as a child. Dia is beautiful, quirky, funny. I wondered if Sybil was as young as many prostitutes are when they hit the streets – thirteen, fourteen. I wished we could somehow go back and I could embrace, encourage and love the little Sybil as Dia is often embraced, encouraged and loved.
But now, it is the older, messed up, less attractive Sybil that needs the embrace. And Jesus is there, embracing her with our arms, encouraging her with our prayers and loving her with our hearts.