She gave vague answers and avoided a few of my questions altogether. I never did find out how she had ended up alone on an isolated stretch of Highway 36 as the sun was about to set.
I´d glimpsed her sitting on a rock as I maneuvered one of the highway´s many curves. Curious and concerned about her safety, I wondered if I should turn around. In a matter of seconds I had prayed, slowed my car, and almost involuntarily found myself heading back the way I´d come.
I rolled down my window and asked if she needed help. She looked slightly nervous but accepted a ride. As we exchanged some words, I realized very quickly that she was mentally unstable and hearing voices (either due to a psychological disorder, drug use, or both, I do not know).
“Are the voices making you afraid at all or are you okay?” I inquired as nonchalantly as possible.
“I´m okay right now,” she said.
For a few moments I doubted whether it was wise to have a woman like this in my car but then remembered it was God who had made me turn around and give her a ride. I tried not to worry.
“Do you have any cigarettes?” she asked.
“No, I don´t smoke. Are you hungry?” I ventured.
“Actually I am,” she said.
After eating two scones that I had with me, she still was giving me only non-specific responses to my efforts at conversation. I turned on a Christian music CD and focused on driving. A few times I could feel her gazing at me. Our mutual silence was only broken by her random bursts of laughter and a bit of unintelligible mumbling.
As I dropped her off at the store I had agreed to leave her at, I made a last effort to confirm that she actually had a place where she would be able to stay that night. She said she´d be fine as she wrapped her shawl around her arms more tightly and walked away with barely a word of thanks.
I drove back towards home. Her strong body odor lingered in the air for a while. I wondered if there was more I could have done. God seemed to assure me that, just as He had sent me to care for some of her needs, He would continue to watch over her. I thought of how much heaven Loves that scared, muttering, broken lady and I hoped that some part of her knew that I loved her.
Had she seen God´s Love in me? If it had been Jesus in the seat next to me, would I have treated Him any more politely or any more warmly than I did that lady?
In a way, the true answer is “no” because as Jesus says Himself, “That WAS me.”
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”