I spotted him Sunday on my way home.
He hobbled up Haskell Avenue late in the afternoon. I've got to say I've never seen anyone walk like him. More accurately, I've never seen anyone in his condition walk at all.
He used two wooden crutches.
His right leg dangled from his torso in a rather unruly fashion. It twisted around in front of him as he "walked" along. Yet, somehow with each step he managed to "catch" the free hanging limb with his left leg as he propelled himself forward using the crutches.
He struggled up the street, but with a "stride" that told me he was very accustomed to his condition.
I couldn't help myself. I couldn't turn away from him.
As I drew closer, I noticed that he had made a slight turn toward a vacant building along the street. He moved with determination to the wall of the structure closest to him that ran perpendicular to the street.
When he made it to the wall just off the thoroughfare, he stopped and relieved himself.
No restroom facility open to this citizen of Dallas, at least none that he could find.
Alone, so far as I could tell.
No companion to steady his travel.
Just one man, throwing his leg, or what was left of his leg, forward as he walked into the rest of his life.
As I drove past him, my mind raced in several directions at once. The questions flew through my head in rapid fire.
How did he get here?
What happened to his leg?
How long had it endured in this condition?
Why was he homeless?
Where was his family?
Did he have anyone who cared about him or for him here in Dallas?
Why no wheelchair?
Where would the spend the night?
What could I do?
I know there is a reason why he is in the condition he's in. He may have made some really bad choices.
Or, maybe not.
He may be an alcoholic or a drug addict.
Or, maybe not.
As my mind and heart joined in their speculation, it hit me that none of that mattered at all. Not one bit.
Here was a man, a fellow human being, my brother who needed a home, a place to stay and some new friends.
He likely needs a lot more, as well.
But the scope of his need and the reasons back of them don't matter at all.
All that matters is compassion--the kind of compassion that allows people to connect without the crippling conditions of judgment or "evaluation." The sort of compassion that joins people in such a marvelous renewing way that leads to flourishing community among the poor, the wounded, the crippled, the struggling, the insecure and the frightened--categories with doors wide enough to invite and allow us all in as guests and, ultimately, members.
I'll see the man with the dangling leg again, I know I will.
As a result, things will change for him and, just as important, for me as well.
I'm looking forward to meeting him. I know he will have much to offer the rest of us.
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