If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.Exodus 22:22
I heard her before I saw her. She was sitting on a bench in front of the Walmart, bags piled next to her, trying to get the attention of passersby. “Is anyone going to Chino Valley? I need a ride to Chino.” It was nearly dark, a chilly evening and Chino Valley was at least 25 miles away.
“Please don’t ask me,” I whispered under my breath. If that was a prayer, God’s answer was a resounding “No!” Just as we were about to slink by her, she looked directly at me. “Do you live in Chino?” I could have ignored her as everyone else was doing, but I knew I could not refuse to answer her question. “Yes,” I said, “we live in Chino Valley.”
My husband, Craig, helped her get into the far back seat of our van. As we all got into the van and closed the doors, our eyes began to water. The smell from the far back seat quickly filled the small space inside our car. Craig popped the side windows in the back–a necessity even though the air outside was cool. It would take about a half hour to drive to Chino. Unfortunately, that was not our only destination since we had our daughter and her boyfriend with us. First we had to take our daughter’s boyfriend to his house in Prescott Valley. Then we had to take our daughter home. Our total trip was more than an hour long.
It was a quiet trip. We had no idea about who this woman was. I was trying to imagine how she managed to get to the Walmart. It was not possible she had walked. I was sure someone had driven her there and then gone on their way. When she accepted the ride, she had to know that she would have to find someone else willing to drive her home. It occurred to me that she had more faith in her fellow man than we actually deserved. If she hadn’t asked me directly–if I had managed to skirt around her without being noticed–I doubt that I would have been the one to give her a ride. I wondered what it would be like to be so dependent on the good will of others in a world seriously lacking in good will.
Once we reached Chino, she directed us to a small strip of land surrounded by a broken-down wire fence. Inside the fence was a tiny, dilapidated trailer. Cats were roaming around the yard, climbing over and through the rubble. There was no visible driveway or gate. She asked to be let off at the side of the road and she waited there until we drove away. I managed to look in the side mirror just in time to see her climb over the fence.
Later, I would learn that the Town of Chino Valley had cleaned up her property and captured most of the cats. Eventually, she built another trash heap, worse than the first When the neighbors, once again, began complaining about the smell and the feral cats, the town had no choice but to condemn the property. The owner was placed in a home and the lot cleaned up once again. Today it is a small park with trees and benches for her neighbors to enjoy.
I’m not sure why I stated thinking about her again. Maybe it’s because of our situation with the Covid virus. Most of the people I was used to seeing on street corners are gone. I wonder where they are and if they are getting help. Just because they are invisible now, doesn’t mean they don’t exist or need our help. God hears their cry . When he sends them help, He is sending us.