I came across a homeless women walking with a sleeping bag, unfolded, holding it with one dirty hand and, in the other, a can of beer.
She tries to get the attention of people by telling them how being ignored annoys her. Indeed, almost everybody is trying hard not to take notice.
I say: Hello. And she says: You are not like the other ones. You are nice. Do you have some coins? She will play the same strategy with every one who sees her.
Later on, I see her again. I know you, she tells me, while everybody
else ignores her. You are the man with the hat. I say yes and I hold
her hand for a second.
I have seen her dirty hand but held it. I could have been days since she had any sort of human touch. Then I leave, and I wish I didn't feel like I needed to clean my hand immediately.
Poor woman, says someone in passing. And I feel, suddenly, all the strangeness of this sentence. I can't possess it. It asks for consent, but, even as I try, my whole self screams out against it. I can't own it and it blows up my mind. It is weird but it is related to the fact that I like her. I like her and I like the homeless I find.
René Girard may be right and this sentence means "I am lucky that I am not in her place". It is a way to gain our identity by placing ourselves over against someone else, trying to avoid the position of shame. But this is the position that Jesus have come to inhabit, the place from which he comes to us with his good news.
Of course I want her to be better off. But even so, I like her right now. In her see a shared humanity. My desire of being regarded with love. The fragility of the human being. My fragility. The beauty of the creation. Our utter dependence on God.