It was pouring down rain, and she was sitting outside the post office, begging. She called me a cow when I didn't stop to give her any money.
My reason for not stopping had nothing to do with being cheap. I actually had an insight about her. I saw her to be far more worthy than she was seeing and expecting herself to be.
I had an idea of what she might be feeling. Looking at her reminded me of a time when I felt down and out. People's help and pity wouldn't or couldn't have helped me lift myself out of the gutter; it was finding my own identity that freed my spirit.
I was a student in London, and I had run into heavy debts and had neglected my studies, and I was sponging off my friends. In the end, they got tired of helping me and stopped. When the chips were all down, I had to look within myself to survive. That was the beginning of my search for my identity, which took me on an exciting journey of self-discovery and dominion.
This journey took me some twenty years! It was a time of searching. Each time I found what I thought would make me happy and fulfilled, I was disappointed. Then one day when I thought there was no longer any hope, somebody told me about Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This changed my entire search. It gave me the answers I was looking for. One of the things I read was: "The enslavement of man is not legitimate. It will cease when man enters into his heritage of freedom, his God-given dominion over the material senses" (pg. 228).
That was the beginning of all things new for me. I had never seen that I had a birthright of dominion that I could actually claim. I had missed out on everything in life. I was a survivor, but I thought I had to fight a loser's fight. Now I realized I could approach life from a victor's standpoint. I was the child of God. I was the offspring of His strength and dominion, and nothing was blocking my way but how I saw myself. God was my mirror, and I was reflecting back the brilliance of my potential from an infinite standpoint of perfection as His reflection.
I realized it was a waste of time writing the script of my life as a loser, wishing I were somewhere else and someone else. I decided not to miss my life by trying to live someone else's.
A bird has to let go of the branch in order to fly. If I wanted to know the exhilaration of soaring to the highest potential of my life, I had to let go of my branch intense fear of failure and destitution.
My own awakening impelled me to help this woman somehow. I continued to see her many times a week, sitting in the same corner by the post office just around the corner from my office. She got used to my walking past and smiling at her. She never smiled back but gave me plenty of dirty looks. But she did stop calling me names.
Back at my office, I would write down what different qualities I had seen in her that day, and I praised God for His bountiful handiwork for creating her with such strength. I saw the strength and perseverance she had, sitting in that same exposed place during the hard winter we were having that year. It was a strength that could break any barriers.
It was the innate strength of her spiritual richness that couldn't bind her in shackles or keep her or anyone a prisoner of circumstances. Nothing can stop our naturally good and strong inner abilities of independence and make us rely on anything other than what is rightfully ours as a loved child of our divine Mother, Love. We each have a niche in Her purpose, and we are receptive to it.
One day, she was gone.
Not long ago, a beautiful young lady in a stylish outfit passed me in the street. She gave me a beaming smile. I smiled back. I knew the face well, but I couldn't remember in what context. On the way home that night from work, I suddenly knew. It was the woman who used to sit outside the post office, begging.
I hope she found what she is looking for. I like to think my prayers helped her on her journey, because somebody, somewhere, also must have prayed for me when I was reaching out for help.