Lady In a Crisp Red Coat

A lady in a crisp red coat and white pearls stood out bold on a Chicago sidewalk. Her pose was calmly defiant against the blur of pedestrians rushing by. She perched atop a black crate turned upside-down, a container not designed for sitting, let alone for two. But her knee touched the knee of a man whose weathered skin and dark clothes blended into the dull pavement.

He clutched a red solo cup, the flimsy bank of his daily profit; she gripped two dollar bills and a homemade sign that declared “I will match whatever you give him." The two had previously been separated by an implicit spectrum of cultural, material and social guidelines – but one had realized her wealth did not equate richness and traversed the spectrum like a camel passing through the eye of a needle, and both now enjoyed a radical richness more satisfying than material possession.

Just yesterday, she was an indistinguishable color in the blur of rushing pedestrians. The symbols in her brick bank would have defined her as rich and her rushing would have blinded her from the hole in her richness that whispered to her otherwise. But for once her eyes had opened and she looked at instead of through him. Something - she said it was God - caused her to stop and turn back. She didn’t feel the hole until she saw his tears; she didn’t know that compassion could hurt more beautifully than richness protects until she looked into his eyes; she didn’t know that poor was something human until she listened to his story.

So today, she found herself sitting on a black box through the chilly Chicago morning and afternoon hours. The sign in her hand read “I will match whatever you give him” and as she lost sight of her wealth spilling out on the other side of the needle, she glimpsed the Kingdom of God drawing near.