Sometimes, in the most ordinary, you see the hand of God.
People watching is a great way to pass time waiting for a plane, or at a traffic light, or sitting in a restaurant above a sidewalk.
It was at a Catholic Press Convention. I can’t remember the city or the hotel. I was at breakfast, sitting alone at a window of a second story restaurant. As I looked out the window, I saw people milling around below me.
The sidewalk ran under the restaurant and away from my solitary perch.
After a while, the crowd seemed to thin. It was then that two figures moved away from me, down the sidewalk.
It was a man and a woman, walking side-by-side, holding hands, man on her right, she on his left. The man was pushing along a bicycle with his right hand.
They were dressed quite simply. Her dress was worn and faded. He wore what seemed to be very old work clothes.
Besides their simple attire in the midst of well-dressed convention goers, business personnel and tourists, what caught my eye was the man’s spinal deformity—a big “S” from his shoulders to his hips.
Actually, in their simplicity, possible poverty and their apparent affection, they seemed really to belong, as real as the rest of us.
Poor, advanced in years, here they were moving along, hand-in-hand in the midst of affluence, and they didn’t seem out-of-place. To me, they embodied the essence of being human, no frills or affectation. Their presence seemed to say, “Here we are, alive and breathing the same air everyone breathes, walking the way everybody walks, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. We feel hurt and joy. We love.”
As I think back on this experience, I understand a bit better what Pope Francis tells us about including the poor in the flow of life, especially in governmental and social concerns, in an effort to help them gain self-determination.
They didn’t see me.
They didn’t even know I existed.
But I will never forget them.