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“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:35-40
When my oldest child was eleven-years-old, another mother and I took two vehicles full of boys – all twelve on the baseball team – for a fun outing at a movie theater. After the movie, while we were exiting the theater en masse, I noticed a little girl standing alone and crying by the doorway of the arcade room.
Thinking she just couldn’t see one of her parents, I bent down and asked if she was ok, but she was quite inconsolable. She missed her mom and wanted to go home. After talking to her, I discovered that she was five-years-old and her mom had left her alone at the arcade while she went shopping. The little girl was getting increasingly panicked and the only person she decided she would talk to was me. So we waited. And we waited. The other mom and the entire baseball team waited with us. We waited as we alerted the people at the theater, none of whom knew the girl or her mother. We waited while the police came. We waited while the little girl shared her name and her information with me so that I could share it with the police. I’m not sure how long she had been there alone before I saw her, but we waited with her for at least an hour-and-a-half while all this took place. We were still there when her mom showed up, baffled at what the big deal was and why there was an entire crowd of people holding vigil with her frightened daughter. Despite our concerns, the little girl was sent home with her mother who promised not to do anything like that again.
I still think about that little girl every now and then. I know her name. I remember her tears. There was nothing I wanted more than to take her home with me and show her that she was loved and valued. And truthfully, it still makes me angry that a mother thought it was ok to leave a five-year-old girl unattended in a public place. I hope the mom learned a lesson on that day. I hope the little girl felt cared for by this group of people that saw her and heard her story and decided to stay with her when she was afraid. I hope the rambunctious eleven-year-old boys we had with us learned a lesson, too. Sometimes being a friend and just being with someone is the most important thing we can do for someone else. Even if it doesn’t feel like it’s enough, sometimes it’s all we have to give. I’d like to think we made a difference that day in the life of a frightened little girl. All these years later, I still pray for her. I hope she’s had a good life. We never know how God might use us on any given day, but we can always pray that God will continue to give us opportunities to do good, love God and share compassion and kindness with others.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be there for others when they need us, no matter how big or small the need. Help us to care for one another when we are hurting. Amen.