Slowly he walked up the sidewalk, with his face pointed toward the ground. As he inched closer to me with every step, I was drawn to look at him. He was thin, of average height for a boy his age, and had short uncombed hair. His skin was pale and his face dotted with acne.
A few feet before passing me he raised his head, his eyes meeting mine. What was seconds felt like hours. The window into his soul was opened just enough for me to peek through. Flowing from him was such pain, sadness and loneliness. A deep darkness consumed him. A darkness that radiated from him. A darkness that could be felt.
As we passed each other and his shoulders met mine, I heard him scream. It wasn’t audible, but it was deafening.
Moments later, as his unspoken words still filled my mind, my feet came to a stop. Turning back to look for him, he had traveled far from me, too far to call out to. Standing there, I watched as he slowly approached the bus that would take him home. From a distance, I could still hear his silent scream, calling out for help to anyone who would hear him.
This was a teenage boy who was walking out of my son’s high school earlier this week. The annual meeting with my son’s group of teachers was scheduled to begin in only a couple of minutes. They were all waiting on me to arrive and not wanting to hold them up, I didn’t stop. Not in time. I should have stopped while he was still there standing before me on the sidewalk, but I didn’t. Shame on me.
I don’t know what I would have done or said to him, and maybe nothing would have helped. However, sometimes all it takes is one word. One person to take the time to show compassion.
One kind word. One act of love toward another. Is that too much to ask?
We go through life not setting out to be selfish, but sometimes we find that that’s exactly what we are. Those teachers could have waited. I could have delayed my entry into the building for one minute. That one minute could have been the difference between life and death. That is something I’ll probably never know.
As we pass by someone, we don’t know what they’re going through. Their pain is not always revealed for us to see. What we do know, is that everyone needs someone. Everyone needs a friend, a confidant, someone who cares about them. From time to time, everyone needs a hand to help lift them up. It is our duty as mankind to love others, to care for them, to be compassionate and to give of ourselves.
Our life’s meaning goes far beyond ourselves.
Love others. Love is not merely a word to be carelessly thrown about. It is an action. An action that requires your time. Just one minute may be all it takes to make a difference in someone’s life.
One minute. What will you do with it? Keep it for yourself or share it with someone who needs it?