She seemed as if she was going to suffer a nervous breakdown any moment. Sophie*, a young lady whom I had seen but never spoken to had just tapped me on the shoulder. She was known to be socially akward, and was always seen alone. Her wild eyes looked unconfortably into mine and her voice quivered as she gathered up the courage to speak.
"May I have one moment of your time?" Sophie asked, looking as if she would dart away any second.
After dispatching a few of my friends and handing the baby over to my husband, I sat down in a corner of the room, giving her my complete atention. Sophie had a little gift bag in her hand. She placed it on my lap.
"Ive never talked to you, but I want you to know how much I admire you."
I opened the bag, and in it was a little black shirt. It was simple but useful. Sophie herself was always dressed quite simply. She was always clean, neat and-plain. I thanked Sophie and she left in a hurry.
My father in law is a pastor of a large church. It's not uncommon for people to come and give me gifts from time to time, for no apparent reason other than being thankful for my service. If only I had known how much this little black shirt had cost Sophie, I would have been more appreciative upon recieving her gift.
A little more than a year ago, Sophie walked the streets of central Mexico with no shoes on her feet. She was a homeless beggar, barely managing to stay alive. Her bed was the concrete floor and her shelter was whatever bridge she could find. Sophie was avoided by the people of the city. She was believed to be a lunatic, never making sense when she spoke. Coins dropped into her plastic cup from time to time as she walked along side traffic, with her hands stretched out to the cars. One morning, like any other, she made her way into a church, hoping to find generous people who could give her some change.
Well, she found people. And she found change.
Never in her life had she felt this way. She was electrified with a sense of hope and destiny. Layer by layer, she started to peeling off as the people in the church prayed for her. Her future flashed before her, and it was unlike anything she had ever seen. She was no longer a street bum, a beggar or a whore. She was a princess, loved by God Himself. It was a life changing encounter.
She decided to abandon her life of misery and pursue a life of destiny. After inquiring about the people who had prayed for her, she discovered that they were from Monterrey, Mexico (they were some pastors from my church). She would follow them there. Having nothing to gather and no one to kiss goodbye, she made her way to our six million member metropolis. Then, she came to our church.
That's where I saw her. Day in and day out, she was singing softly as she cleaned the bathrooms and mopped the floors. Every now and then she would take a break to stand at the altar and pray, sing and even dance. Then, she continued with her chores. Sophie was always the first one to show up for a service and the last one to leave. She was sold out.
Sophie began to make a little extra cash from selling knick knacks. Shortly after her arrival to the city, she found a quaint little place to live. Not knowing how to socialize, Sophie kept to herself and minded her own buisness. That was until the day she tapped me on the shoulder. Coming boldly towards me, she conquered yet another giant in her life. Ever since then, I see her bravely venturing to other people and giving her best shot at small talk.
At times, miracles are instantaneous while others require some time. Some battles are fought for us, yet others ours to overcome. Sophie is finding her strenght in her weakness. Like a small baby, she is opening her mouth and discovering her own voice. Sophie is on a life changing journey, in which dreams are finally allowed.
Tomorrow morning, I will wear the little black shirt to church. I hope she notices.
* Her name has been changed for privacy and protection.