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Subway Angel

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone especially to those in the family of faith.  Galatians 6:10


Standing in the cement chamber of the Washington DC rail system, John and I pondered the buttons on the machine that sold tickets. Sounds of rolling wheels echoed off the walls. “We should be able to figure this out.” I tried to feed a five dollar bill into a slot, but the machine refused to accept it. “What am I doing wrong?”

Before we had flown away from our farm in Michigan, I had reassured my husband we could manage to purchase tickets for the correct train and take the subway to visit friends who lived in Maryland. “Be adventurous,” I lectured. Now, I watched as a young, well-dressed couple punched buttons for a different train and grabbed their tickets. Even when I mimicked their actions, no slips of paper emerged. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a short, gray-haired lady dressed in a polyester pantsuit with two full shopping bags. Panting, she set them down by us.

“Are you farmers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania?” she asked. “I visited there a couple of years ago. Need some help?”

“We’re from a farm in Michigan. Could you please show us how to use these machines? We’ve never ridden a subway.” I handed her the bills. “We need tickets for the Red Line.”

“Sure.” Her wrinkled hands paused. “Would you mind buying my ticket too?”

“Sure thing.” I gave her more money.

She slipped the bills into a slot I hadn’t observed and handed me our tickets before purchasing another.

“You’ll need to stand over here for the Red Line. I’ll be taking the Green Line.”

Our new friend chatted with us until her train arrived. “Don’t move from here. The Red Line should arrive in a few minutes.” Hoisting her bags, she lumbered up the train’s steps.

Finally, we climbed into our train car and rattled off towards Silver Springs, grateful for the woman’s assistance. It would be too simple to judge the young couple who wouldn’t take time to help two sojourners and laud the bag lady.

How often have I turned away from the plea to teach Sunday school, or to sponsor a child in Honduras, or to pause and visit with an 
elderly friend? Like so many others, I rush about focused on accomplishing numerous tasks when I should imitate Jesus, who stopped when a woman touched the hem of His cloak. He didn’t hesitate to reach out and help her. 

Be like Jesus. Take time to extend a hand. 

Lord, please help me grow a heart that will stop and do good. 

(Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com.)

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Joan Donaldson

Joan Donaldson’s latest novel, On Viney’s Mountain, represented the State of Tennessee at the 2010 National Book Festival. This year, her nonfiction articles appeared in MaryJane’s Farm and A Simple Life magazines. She co-leads a Kids’ Life Bible Club in the local elementary school and loves watching the children’s faces when she teaches them about Jesus.