As I left the subway station in Prague, I started looking at street signs and tripped on the cobblestone pavement. The next thing I knew, I was on my knees; my mouth and nose were throbbing, and my lip bled profusely. I was more than physically hurt. I felt frustrated with myself for falling. This was as far from home as I’d ever felt. I tried to regain my balance and composure as people hurried past. Some dropped me tissues. A few asked me questions in Czech but moved on when I couldn’t answer them.
Finally, a kind presence bent down beside me. Realizing I didn’t understand her language, she tried German, then French. I was relieved when I finally heard, “How can I help you?”
“I need some water and a telephone.” She helped me to my feet and led me back to the station where I washed my face and deposited her coins into a pay phone. She dialed the seminary for me. She led me down the escalator and accompanied me on the train back to the place where I’d started my day.
As we waited for my ride in the 27-degree chill, I asked her to write down her name and address. “Do you live near here?” I asked. “No,” she said, “I just wanted to make sure that you got back safely.”
This woman has taken on a mythical quality in my memory. When I was in a vulnerable place, she appeared out of nowhere and offered help. A merciful Samaritan in a winter coat and woolen gloves befriended someone she would never see again. I never hesitate to call her an angel of mercy, yet nothing she did was beyond the reach of everyday kindness. The remarkable thing about that kind stranger is that she saw a person in need and did not pass by.
Remember a time when you gave or received healing gifts like those the Samaritan gave, none of which is beyond the reach of everyday kindness.
God, help me tell you my need and receive your gifts with gratitude. Amen.