Plastic Bags

I sit here with tears in my eyes, I know I am over tired, but my heart has become oh so soft days of late. I sit here at the library, with my books out, and headphones on. How easy it could be to sit here and be in my own world, to not notice those around me studying for finals or reading words written centuries ago, As much as I would like to be fully engulfed in my study of Nahum, I am distracted.

I sit here on one side of a shared desk. I’ve sat on this floor before but never in this seat. I have seen her before though, I should have known this was her desk by the pile of soggy tissues on the window sill.

She is here each time I have come but today she was not. I chose my seat, sat down and unpacked the contents of my backpack and prepared to study. Soon enough I saw her coming, those plastic bags gripping to her arms. She sheepishly looks at me, I give her a smile as she places a page of newspaper on the other half of the desk and carefully lays and then stacks those plastic bags.

I watch her gently go about her routine, never having watched it so closely before. She moves the contents to the desk behind her and pulls out a bottle. From what I can tell it is simply water, then out comes a folded roll of toilet paper. She pours out the water on the desk and begins to meticulously wipe down every square inch of the desk.

Before she arrived, I noticed the chair in front of me worn out, the wood finishing rubbed off. Now I watch as she carefully goes over every square inch of the chair, and look down to see my chair, nor the others is worn the same way.

As she continues to wipe down her home in the library, I notice the rubber bands around her tiny wrists, they keep her tattered shirt from letting in the cold. Holes on her forearms, elbows, and even on her pants.

She wears a pair of large plastic-framed glasses, her left lens marked with a deep scratch.

The church across the street just got out and I watch as she gazes upon the waves of people leaving the doors. I wonder if she knows she is welcome there, plastic bags and all.

I wonder if she knows a saviour died for her.  I wonder what her name is, her story, where she’s from and how she got here. I wonder what is in those plastic bags.

I tried to make conversation with her, but she shied away. I want to speak with her, ask her about her name and her story. I want to tell her of truth, grace and joy.

It gets me all emotional, we all have a story, I could just see her as the weird woman at the library, but I know there is more to her than that. I refuse to overlook those around me as merely warm bodies.

This morning Norm talked about how each of us have a desperation. We are from two worlds her and I, we could not be more different. Different ages, races, backgrounds, clothing, language and the list goes on. Yet, we really are not that different. We both have a desperate need for a redeemer. We both fall short. We both need love. We both need grace.

I think I will sit here more often, in the seat across the worn out chair and plastic bags.

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  • Reply Jenna Campbell

    Girl, wow. Good writing.

    January 12, 2017 at 5:42 pm
  • Reply Becky

    “Plastic Bags” loves sitting near to you – your presence, Christ living in you, makes her feel safe, gives her a few moments of peace, allows her to be just her, and one day, she’ll feel safe enough to mumble a few words – keep smiling the warmth of Christ in her direction. 🙂 (By the way, we proboblably were exiting that church then – those marble stairs may be daunting for someone who is used to cement – but “Plastic Bags” was created for so much more than just cement.). Hugs!

    January 19, 2017 at 4:39 am
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