Questions That Keep Circling

Here are two things to ponder if you can’t sleep:

Ponder #1.

Ya’ll know the story of the Good Samaritan. Here’s  a quick recap: A man is beaten by robbers and left lying beside the road. A priest and a Levite (religious servants) see the victim and leave him lying there.  A Samaritan (which is considered the scum of the Israelite community) helps the guy, leaving enough money that he could stay at an inn and recoup for about a month.

Now…in this story, who are you? Which persona do you think fits?

It’s interesting that most folks in the U.S. consider themselves one of the three persons walking down the road, however in Africa, listeners take the roll of the victim.

It floored me. I’d never even considered it. It made me ponder how different cultures gave us different perspectives.

Ponder #2

Maybe I had the Good Samaritan story in mind as I left Walgreens yesterday, and the raggedy guy that I passed said something to me.

I stopped, turned around, and gave him my focus. (I’m working on giving folks my “eyes” when I talk since I tend to look around and think of what I need to be doing while they are talking. I’m working on it. I’m not always successful.)

“Would you light my cigarrette?” he repeated.

“Uh…sure,” I said. “Do you have any matches?” He dug in his pocket. It was when I took the matchbook from him that I noticed that his thumb and 2 spots on the fingers he used to tweeze his cigarette were black. His skin actually looked like charcoal.  I couldn’t figure out if they were burned spots or tar residue. Jumpin’ Jimeney Cricket that was a lot of smokes, if the black spots came from his habit.

His hand shook as he held the cigarette to his mouth.  It took 3 matches. The wind kept blowing them out.  In between the 1st and 2nd lights, I was torn with a struggle about what was the right thing to do. I said, “I really don’t think you should be smoking.”  I felt stupid after I said it. He didn’t give a rat’s tail what I thought. He probably would have listened to me read the Surgeon General’s warning from his package of Camels, if it meant that I would light his cigarette for him.

So…I’ve pondered the situation ever since. Should I have helped him? Is it right to help someone do something that harms their body?

After his cigarette was lit, he shuffled away without a word. He left me with a question circling my heart.

Care to share your pondering?


About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Sleepless Nights, Worries and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Questions That Keep Circling

  1. Jenny says:

    Thanks to all of you for an wonderful discussion reflection. Lots to ponder.


  2. Lisa Nowak says:


    I tried to respond to this post the other day, but it didn’t work. When I tried again I got a message of a duplicate post. Go figure. What I said was basically along the lines of what Roxanne said, only she did it more succinctly.



  3. Roxanne says:

    It never hurts us to give love and we need to speak that love in the language the other person understands and not necessarily the one we’re comfortable with. That way we leave all the judgements out of our gift. We never know in the next second what will influence another for their good. I appreciate you.


  4. matt says:

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).


  5. Barb says:

    Yeah R.
    After pondering this for a while (and I love to ponder), I concluded that “I” got in the way. It was an opportunity to show kindness.

    I bet I’ll get another chance to learn the lesson again.:)


  6. Roxie says:

    Whatever you decide to do for the poor old dog, try to be a conduit for God’s love when you deal with him. There’s a lot of people I can’t deal with personally, but if I just make myself a pipeline for God, and step out of the way, I can trust that the best has been done.


  7. Barb says:

    You open your heart and out comes words of such honesty that it makes me sit silently and wonder at how our Creator made a universe in which everything was so connected. Thank you.


  8. Roxie says:

    There’s a lot of alcoholism in my family. Dad, who in his prime could multiply four digit numbers in his head, got to the point where he couldn’t add up a hand of cards to play blackjack. And he knew that he was responsible for his own destruction, which vastly contributed to his misery. Mom kept buying his gin till he died. Did she put him out of his misery, or just provide herself with a drinking buddy? Alcohol is a destructive drug and, like cigarettes, it’s quite legal. When Mom got to the point where she wanted me to buy booze for her, I told her that I was not going to help her kill herself. It wasn’t easy, but it was easier than living with the eventual guilt.

    On a growth arc, you overcame your personal agendas to do a small kindness for a needy soul, and you get blessings for that. He’s dying, slowly and in hopless circumstances. If her were a dog, a loving owner would probably have him put to sleep. Next time he asks, can you live with bringing him a step closer to that long sleep? A little bit of his miserable life is in your hand. Give him more time to turn to God or help him out of his pain?


  9. Barb says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Yes, I wondered that too, but he was a rather “simple-minded” fellow. It felt more like a situation in which a kid falls off his bike. The kid can get up, but he asks for help.

    This raggedy guy was shaking. The wind kept blowing the match out as I tried to light it. Maybe he just couldn’t get it lit when he tried.

    Perhaps your question is: Did he even try?
    My questions is: Should I have tried?


  10. Lisa Nowak says:

    I think it was a kindness to help him out. He’s made his decision and if he wants to smoke that’s his business. By not lighting his cigarette you wouldn’t be stopping him from smoking, you’d just be making his life momentarily more difficult. Even if he did stop smoking, would it improve his quality of life? Probably not.

    To make moral decision for another person is to take away their right to free will. So long as they’re not hurting someone else, they have a right to make their own choices. Just because we find something distasteful or foolish doesn’t mean we have a right to force our opinion on another person.

    If this person had been a family member and his addiction was causing trouble or pain for the rest of the family, then things might be different, but since he wasn’t, I think the kindest thing was exactly what you did.


  11. ryan says:

    I can honestly say I would of probably continued walking. Why couldn’t he light his own cig? If he has that much of a problem smoking he probably has lit a few in his day. Let’s not hope he goes around and get’s random people to give him a light.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if he’s capable of doing it himself why couldn’t he do it him self?


  12. Barb says:

    Hey auburnchick, I’m glad to see you. I had met this raggedy guy, a long time ago, but I’m sure he didn’t remember. I’ve seen him at the library or the grocery store. He’s usually shuffling along a street.

    So it’s not that I’m brave or anything. It simply didn’t feel like a BAD situation. If I’d never seen him before, I probably wouldn’t have stopped. I’d like to think better of myself, but honestly, there have been times I’ve thought: “I should stop for that person…they look like they need help.” And I kept driving by because I was afraid.

    It was on the sidewalk, in front of a store. So this time I stopped. Now I question myself…did I do the right thing????


  13. auburnchick says:

    Hmmm…I’m not sure that I would have stopped to light the cigarette…probably out of fear for personal safety, not because of the ill affects of smoking.

    I’d like to think of myself as the Good Samaritan, but am I really? Thinking about your second pondering makes me realize that personal safety would have probably led me to cross the street…maybe but maybe not.

    Hmmm…words to think on…


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