Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sight (Jeremy)

On Monday afternoon, after a morning of random errands, I'm in a neighboring bairro (think burrough) trying to catch a bus home. The sidewalk on which I'm standing, not measuring more than 4 feet in width, is situated between a 8 foot high railway wall and a busy, three-laned road where buses and cars barrel past at speeds exceeding 60 mph. Hailing a bus in such a location demands both visual acuity and spastic arm motions. While I'm waiting, another bus pulls up to the stop and three passengers get off. There is a young man with a guitar, his girlfriend and another gentleman in gray engaging the two in conversation. The three of them cross at the intersection, and then they part company - the young couple to the right and the other man to the left. At this point, the man in gray pulls out a walking stick and begins to tap it in front of him. I observe for a few moments as he ambles down the sidewalk. When he makes it to a section that is particularly narrow, he begins to lean against the wall and feel his way down the road. At that point, I approach him and ask if I can walk besides him to wherever he's going. He graciously accepts.

"Where are you heading?" I ask, hoping he knows the way because I don't know the area that well.

"To the Association for the Blind - just up the road to the right." he responds.

"My name is Jeremy. I'm not from around here."

"I could tell. I'm Wesley. I'm not from around here either."

He then goes on to share with me how he's originally from the northeastern part of Brazil. He came to Rio because he met a girl on-line. I'm quite amused by this, and we talk for a while. He tells me a little about his life here - how he works making brooms at the Association and hangs out with this girl on the weekends. We make it to the door of the Association and exchange cell phone numbers. Then, I ask him if he would like for me to help him inside.

"No," he replies, "I can get around here with my eyes closed."

As I'm walking back to the bus stop, I am genuinely humbled. As much as I would like to be free from such, I am not above preening myself for random acts of service. But, in this case, at this particular moment, I am not tempted with such vanity. Instead, I genuinely recognize that I am much more blessed to have met him than he me. His humor, his refusal to complain (even though the bus driver had missed his stop by a long shot), his humble strength and transparency - it was like a deep breath. I thought about Jesus' perspective on such people, specifically that the broken are a gift and not a burden. In most situations, that truth is not as tangible as it is with Wesley, but I think we find its subtle veracity in our own lives if we give ourselves time to reflect. And I am left wondering how many God-oriented lessons in Wesley-shaped frames I've missed just because I'm in a hurry to make the next bus.

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