Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Saw a Peace Maker Today

I don't know exactly what was going on. This is just a scene I came upon. It was troubling but not without hope. But I don't know exactly what I saw.

I'll just describe it as best I can.

Cast of characters:

A white guy in a wheelchair, dirty, long tangled, blond hair; a hard life obscured his age (40-60 is my best guess). His right foot was missing, leg cut off about halfway down his shin. His left arm was in a cast. He was agitated.

A large Hispanic man, probably twice the size/weight of the wheelchair guy. Jeans and denim shirt, cowboy hat. Working class, I'd guess,  but with a demeanor that makes me think he's used to being in charge.

A black woman, shorter than me, close-cropped hair. In current jargon, she had skills, as I'll reveal.

I got off the train at Wheeler station, as I do on my way home, to transfer to a bus. Before the train stopped, I could see the two men were engaged in a physical struggle. At first glance, I thought the big guy was maybe a constable or sheriff department, some sort of lawman but not in a policeman's uniform. I think I guessed that at first because he had some things clipped to his belt, but as I got closer, I could see none of them were guns.

But I couldn't tell what was going on. The wheelchair guy was struggling against the bigger man, but was he having a seizure? Were they actually fighting? It became apparent that they were fighting, or as much as a one-footed man with an arm cast could fight. People were telling the wheelchair guy to let go and I saw he had hold of the Hispanic man's shirt, had pulled it almost completely open. The wheelchair guy had a bit of a wild look about him---perhaps I would too if I were being held down by a man twice my size and more able-bodied.

The black woman was in it, trying to tell the wheelchair man to let go, telling the bigger man to step back. Neither were listening to her at first.

I overheard a Metro employee tell someone she'd already called the Metro police.

Not knowing what was going on, I just stood and watched, made a point of it. I ran through my summer of being a chaplain to see if there was anything there that I might pull up to use, but I came up empty. In the present moment, no one appeared to be getting hurt, the two men just holding on to each other, the woman trying to talk them apart.

Enter a white woman, about the same age of the wheelchair man. She also had long, tangled hair, was sunburned, and had other markers of a hard life, but she had all her limbs. She ran up shouting, "He's my brother, he's my brother!"

It was not a happy family reunion. The wheelchair guy seemed not at all interested in seeing her, struggled against her as much as against the Hispanic man. The most useful thing I did the whole time was pick up the wheelchair guy's cap and place in in the wheelchair beside his leg. The only useful the thing the sister did was she got the larger man to turn his attention to her. She started pleading with him, "don't take him to the jail, take him to the alcoholic place. Please! Please! don't take him to the jail, take him to the alcoholic place!" She soon walked away crying.

The black woman moved in to the wheelchair guy and spoke softly to him. I couldn't hear her and he responded as softly. He had tears in his eyes and she nodded, sometimes smiled. She squatted down beside his chair and he calmed down as she talked to him.

The police arrived. I had stepped back, but stepped forward again, not in the way, but presenting myself as a witness, less to the altercation than to whatever the police might do next. Too many news accounts lately make me wary of how police handle situations.

Thankfully, these policemen (and they were all men) were calm and professional, one talking to a Metro employee on the train platform, another talking to the Hispanic man. None of them said much to the wheelchair guy, other than an initial "what's going on?" Maybe they all knew each other.

It was the black woman who I watched now. She became the hero of the story in my eyes. She continued to squat by the wheelchair, talking softly, listening, soothing this troubled man.

I remain puzzled by what happened. I didn't see the beginning, have no idea what started it all. My bus came and I boarded, feeling as useless as I had been the whole time. It seemed the worst had passed.

But I had seen a peacemaker, blessed be she, child of God.

In this great big beautiful world, there is so much hurt and trouble, but we are not left without hope.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.Many blessings to that woman, and to all involved.