Looking for Beauty

I love markets in the morning. Breakfast vendors flipping pancakes and frying eggs, the Chinese version of a breakfast burrito. Wooden stools and makeshift tables crowd the sidewalks; people come out of their apartments for their daily breakfast fare. Spread on the ground, a man on his stomach crawls his way through the throngs of people. A radio, strapped to his back, blares Chinese opera. Notice me, he says.
He's on the ground.
It's easy to miss him. People avert their eyes, dodging him with near misses as they clutch their saran wrap thin plastic bags tight.
My daughter and I walk through the market towards violin lessons on the other side. I love early mornings, I tell her.
I am reminded why I'm living here in this country. While the rich seem to be getting richer, the poor, well, it's the opposite.
A soy milk lady's stand. She pours freshly made soy milk into plastic cups for potential customers.
An old man sits on a small stool fixing bikes. A pile of spare parts lay on a mat next to him. His supply isn't too shabby. My daughter got a new pedal for her bike for less then a $1 the other day.
We see the man this morning because we're looking.
I'm on a hunt.
Not for all things beautiful as I'd normally call it. But yes, beautiful. This man is made in His image. We reflect God's beauty and image but sin and all its ugliness has marred the  beauty and has also marred my ability to see beauty.
We see him and stop.
What's his story? How did he get here? Why is he on his stomach?
Did someone drop him off so he can beg?
Is he being used? My mind turns to horror. Is he really crippled?
I stop myself.
The questions are endless and for the moment they aren't that important.
I love to know that whatever I'm involved with is worth my resources. My time, my energy, my money, but that is all from the Lord anyways, so why do I measure it out like I won't have enough?
When did I forget that?
We stop and I reach into my purse from some money. Crowds press in from behind and we walk backwards through them because there is only way to go back.
My daughter walks over to the man and drops money into his can. People stare. They are stopping now. Not to look at him but to look at her.
An eleven year old, oblivious to stares, stoops down and smiles.
Eyes meet.
She smiles and speaks a blessing for him.
The man's eyes light up. There's something beautiful and innocent in a child's eyes.
She skips back to me.
Hand in hand, we walk. Lord, bless this man, I pray. Lord, mercy! So many are hurting.

What holds me back from welcoming a stranger? What if I had left earlier on my "hunt for beauty" and I had had more time to look for ways this morning to serve?

Loving people and looking to their interests and needs must be more important than my present ones.

Jan Johnson in Invitation to the Jesus Life says, "to befriend such a 'lowly one',(Romans 12:16) transforms us." This keeps us from pretending to be wiser than we are because those we are caring for become our teachers.

Our walk out to the market this morning surprised me. It's being torn down. The vendors are gone. There are no more breakfast stalls. A day's difference in worlds.

I don't want to miss the opportunities the God gives me to love those around me.w


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