Lockhart, Alabama—I saw her on the side of Highway 55. I pulled over.
Her scooter was broken down. Behind her seat is a milk crate with a dog in it. A sign on her scooter reads: “Traveling homeless…”
She broke a chain on the bike. She was trying to fix it, but she doesn’t have the means. She was stranded. The sun was hot. She was tired.
She’s no spring chicken.
I introduced myself. “Ma’am,” I said, “I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you.”
She looked at me funny. “Me?”
Let me explain:
Her name is Lisa. The first time I heard about Lisa was several months ago in Grove Hill, Alabama. My friends, Gail and Johnnie, met a homeless woman on a scooter, heading to Texas.
They stopped to buy her food and a motel room. The next morning, I tried to find Lisa, but she’d already left.
Months thereafter, I heard about Lisa again—hundreds of miles away in Oneonta. My pal, Jim Ed, and his wife came across a woman and her dog, riding a scooter.
This time, the woman was bound for Mississippi.
They loaded her scooter onto a trailer and gave her a ride through the steep North Alabama hills. They gave her money, food, phone numbers. They told me all about her.
I have been hoping to meet Lisa for a long time.
And here she was, in the flesh. Her hair is white, her skin is weathered. She is worn. Her eyes are sharp. She is perfect.
On her handlebars hangs a Bible in a handmade case. Her cigarettes are wedged in the Bible case.
Her old boy, Noah, is an old animal with a smile on his face.
“Been everywhere on this scooter,” she said. “Rode from Pennsylvania to Georgia on this thing. Texas, to Mississippi.
“Being homeless sucks. People get mad at you for no reason, you feel like the most worthless person God ever made.”
Tonight, her needs are simple. She needs a new bike chain, food, and a dry place.
We happen to have a pound of barbecue. I give it to her, she splits the fare with her dog while I work on her bike chain. But, her chain is shot.
“Why don’t you come with me into town?” I reason. “Let’s find some help.”
But she has her way of doing things.
“No sir,” she says. “I’m just not worth the trouble.”
“But,” my wife explains to her, “let’s try to get your bike fixed before the sun goes down.”
“Just leave me,” she says. “Thanks for the barbecue.”
“Won’t you at least ride into Florala with us so we can find help?”
“No, I never leave my bike.”
So we leave Lisa. We ride into Florala. It’s late. A Friday afternoon. Florala is sleepy on a Friday.
I pass an auto shop. They are closing for the night. There are two men loading a truck. I tell them about Lisa. They listen.
In only minutes, strangers wearing blue jeans and boots set out to find Lisa. When we find her, Lisa is on the highway shoulder, watching traffic.
We load her scooter into a truck. We take her to their shop. They repair her chain in no time, they give her sacks of food, they let her clean up in the bathroom.
They offer her a place to stay, but she won’t leave her bike. She only says, “Don’t worry about me, I’m not worth the trouble.”
Thus, tonight while I write this, a woman named Lisa sleeps on the front porch of an Assembly of God Church in Florala, Alabama. Noah, her dog is with her. He’s a good boy.
She’s reading her Bible, smoking cigarettes that someone was nice enough to give her.
Her bike is fixed—thanks to two mechanics named Wade and Todd. And if times improve, she and Noah will be bound for Mississippi on that little machine.
Why am I telling you this?
I don’t know. Maybe because nobody is worthless.
And because I’ve waited a long time to meet the most important person God ever made.