When I returned to Wanda to extend an invitation for lunch, she had a look of surprise on her face. I approached her wheelchair and leaned over to block the noise of the busy downtown street. Passers-by stepped around as I pressed closer to her. I said, “Wanda, I would like you to be my guest for lunch today.” Her mouth opened suddenly as if to say something but no words came from her lips. Again, she tried to speak. This time, just the word, “really?” uttered in a quiet, gentle tone. She gazed in total disbelief. I said, “the Lord told me to invite you to lunch. Would you like to go?” I was now focused on the smile that dominated her face. Wanda’s smile was much like the one I remembered on the face of the homeless man that I first encountered many years ago as I passed a bag of potato chips to him through the car window. I could tell by her reaction that she was having thoughts of what joining me for lunch might be like and truly desired to accept my invitation.
My eyes quickly surveyed Wanda. In the brief time that I stood in front of her chair, I was reminded of the hard life she must live. This poor, vulnerable, woman was weighted down by the plight of being handicapped, unable to work and dependent on others for her daily bread. Her crippled legs were wrapped in elastic support stockings. Through the stockings I could see her twisted and useless feet. Her hair was short with streaks of gray and the defining lines around her eyes and mouth were prominent. Wanda lowered her small cup onto her tattered blanket covered lap, took a deep breath and relaxed for a brief second as if she were relieved to see something or someone that offered a little hope.
Still smiling, she said, “I sure do thank you but I can’t go with you”. She peered over the side of her chair and pointed with her eyes to the large sack that sat on the ground next to her. “You see”, she said, someone brought this big sack of corn and left if for me today. It’s heavy.” I looked around her wheelchair and noticed several other bags hanging from the handles. It was apparent that it was going to be a huge effort for Wanda to pack up her bags and blankets which resembled a small campsite, to go into the mall. At that point, I looked at her and asked what she would like for me to deliver to her for lunch. “I sure would appreciate a sandwich from Walgreens. Yes, that sure would be delicious.” Walgreens was only a few yards away from where I stood. My initial thought was how awful that she would consider a packaged sandwich from Walgreens a delicious meal. I prodded her for what I thought would be a better choice. When I realized that she was not going to offer an alternative, I told her that I would return shortly with her lunch. She said, “If I’m not here when you get back, I’ll be just down the street. Sometimes they make me move from this spot”. I assured her that I would not be gone long and that if she were not there, I would look until I found her.
I decided that a Walgreens prepackaged sandwich would not be fitting for such a dear soul and found myself pointed back to the Macy’s food court for something fresh and hot. Arriving on the second floor where the food court was located, I purchased a freshly made sandwich, a warm container of minestrone soup, an apple and a drink. Pushing through the crowd of shoppers and making my way once again to the street, I felt disappointed that Wanda was not able to join me. Shortly, Wanda came into site, exactly where I had left her. The sun shone brightly overhead making a shadow on the concrete of a poor, crippled beggar. There in the shadow was a woman named Wanda, who with dignity, was sitting in her wheelchair with a cup in hand. I delivered her lunch, which, she was very grateful to have and said good-bye leaving behind my new friend with the weight of the world and a sack of corn.