Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Candle For Lorna.

I never spoke to her. I only saw her. I don't know if she ever really talked to anybody. She was quiet but more than that, she was in another kind of reality. At least once a week I'd see her walking. She walked everywhere in a determined kind of way. Always there on the 9th St. bridge, somewhere downtown, walking Yosemite Blvd. Always walking and always a concentrated look on her face. Not mean, not angry, not blank but something like frustration. She didn't talk.

We could never get her to stop and have a coffee at the 9th St. Cafe. She was always in too much of a hurry to get somewhere. I wouldn't have known her name if not for Arlie. Arlie has known her for years. He remembered when she used to talk and laugh. He remembered what she was like before. Some abuse or tragedy had caused her to retreat into herself. Sometimes she would just stand and look at the road in a silent, troubled reverie.

Arlie was the only one that ever got her to take something we offered. She once took a hot dog from him at one of our cook outs. It was like a miracle.

Lorna passed away two weeks ago from a hit and run driver. She is the 13th victim of hit and run in our county alone this year.

Last night, I was a guest at a prayer service hosted by our local chapter of the National Alliance On Mental Illness. It was a beautiful evening. As people shared their pain and reasons for thanksgiving, I couldn't help but think of Lorna and so many like her in our town that have just fallen through the cracks.

So many have gotten sick or hurt. They are confused and alone. They have no meds so they take what's available on the street. These people are like ghosts haunting the forgotten places. And they will remain that way until we slow down, until we stop, until we listen, until we pray with them, go as far as we can with them, eat with them and somehow find a way to make a place for them among us.

At the end of the service, we were invited to come and light a candle at the altar as symbol of our prayers to Jesus who is the light cutting through darkness. I had Lorna in mind as I lit my candle, thinking of the others out there like her that are alone.

Please, please don't drive distracted. Don't say it won't happen to you. Please put down your cell phone and pay attention.

And better yet, let's work hard at not being distracted people. Take some time, even a little bit, to lay down your life and follow Jesus. He's walking with the broken and lonely. Let's walk with him.

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