Monday, December 11, 2006

What Have I to Offer?

This past Saturday night, I found myself in the midst of holiday mayhem in New York's swanky SoHo village. My sister- in- law and her friend were in town for a few days, so we met up downtown, to hit all the Christmas shopping hot spots.

At any given moment, you could see millions of people hustling and bustling about in an attmept to find the perfect gift. Though each store had the most hip Christmas music to accompany their high end fashion choices, I was not impressed. I mostly felt out of place as I stopped occassionally to observe the chaos unfolding around me.

On our way to another row of boutiques I had an encounter that will forever be imprinted on my soul. I was following closely behind my sister- in- law as we navigated through the construction work and masses of people on the sidewalks. We were separated briefly as I was nudged by the crowd to the edge of the underpass.

There crouched down was a young girl. She could have been my age. She may have been younger; but she was none-the-less a young woman. She was bundled up and shaking, as a large man hovered over her shaking his fist in her face. I heard him say to her, "You will do as many as you have to tonight to make your payment."

I wanted to run. I wanted to pretend this situation wasn't real. But, as I stood there, pressed in by the crowd, our eyes locked for several seconds. Her eyes spoke of fear. Her eyes spoke of a cry for help. But as the sidewalk sign turned to walk, I was swept forward with the crowd.

From that moment, and the remainder of the night, God put these words in my heart and mind: "What have I to offer?" I thought about this question, even as it kept me up most of the night. This young woman was representative of all young women around the world. Her eyes compelled me to search a place deep within...."what have I to offer?"

Sparkfly community, what have we to offer to each other? What have we to offer for women all around the world?

May we turn our hearts to the urgings of the Spirit...

What have we to offer?



Blogger Susan said...

This is a powerful story, friend. Thanks for sharing. It makes me think of my friends on the streets of Prague. It makes me think of how much I see and don't completely understand because I don't speak the language that they speak with each other and with men like the one in your story. So many times when I've been with those young women I wonder what it is that I have to offer. I can't get them out. I can't give them the money they need. I can't even always communicate with them. But ultimately, I think that just being present with them matters.

Sometimes I know we have things to offer (money, knowledge, resources) and sometimes maybe we just have ourselves (our presence, our voices, our solidarity). I'm trying hard to get better at valuing giving myself when I can't give "things." I'm trying to learn that sometimes what I need to do isn't to try to fix anything, but just to be there.

Maybe what you had to offer was just being on the street and seeing that young woman... REALLY seeing her. You saw her as a real person, and you saw her with enough compassion, and you saw her as someone who was relevant enough to your life that you wanted to help her. And I chose to believe that that matters... that it's something that we have to offer. I have to. Because otherwise the needs of the world seem too overwhelming.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Mandy Mc said...

AMEN Susan and many thanks Lori for sharing your story. I have not had an experience like the one you related, but it moved me greatly. It reminds me of the hopelessness I feel for my friends in Sudan sometimes. They have already faced more suffering than I can imagine and continue to live in war and fear of war everyday. It pains me that "all" I can really offer right now is prayer and solidarity. Like Susan, though, I choose to believe that that matters.

10:04 PM  

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