You sit on the concrete slab in the hot sun.
You live there, it is your home.
Your face is painted with years of wind, rain, and adversity.
“Why do you sit there?” I question silently.
The answer hits me like a pounding, breaking rain,
you can’t move.
A wheelchair team approaches you and asks if they can fit you for a chair.
Yet it is too painful for you to move from your slab.
Stuck, trapped, and forgotten.
All I want to do is walk away,
yet feel so ashamed.
“Can we take your picture, sir?” one of the team members’ inquires.
You nod enthusiastically.
I wonder if you have ever had a picture taken of you.
I wonder if anyone has ever truly said hi to you.
The click of the shutter is about to be released.
“Wait,” you yell stopping the very air I breathe.
Slowly with what little strength you possess you lift your arm,
wrapping your fingers around your tattered shirt you pull it up onto your bony shoulder.
Shoulders back, you sit up tall.
I know this must be exhausting for you.
“Now I am ready for my picture,” you beam.
The picture of you hangs on the wall of my dear friend’s office.
She tells me the story of you with tears.
“Isn’t this what we all desire as humans; Dignity,” She says.
Yes I breathe in, “Dignity.”
Still, my heart silently remained closed towards you for years.
I would rather offer platitudes than look you in the eyes.
I ask myself would I even notice you if I was walking by.
I walk by souls like you everyday and find myself trying to ignore your pain.
Why is this? Why do I run? Why do I put up walls this way?
I'm so sorry.
I realize now all you want is for me to see,
you are a person with dreams.
You feel, you have fears, you have gifts, you are just like me.
What got in the way was a lie that told me I was not like you.
To identify with you would mean to see suffering up close,
my own brokenness on overdose.
Surrendering to the truth that I am human and subject to frailty,
is not something that comes easily.
Pride often gets the best of me and locks me in a prison of fearful unreality.
you were the beautiful key that made me free.
You slowly unlocked my scarred, barred, selfish heart,
now I see.
Our experiences might be different and I don’t want to ever try to say I truly understand.
But one thing I know now is that I’m called to rectify,
to see you for who you really are:
whole, a brother, a part of humanity, and strive my best to identify.