Breath fled from him. The rapid exodus of his exhale brought forth the paint that his heart could no longer paint within the lines. Their fists continued to hail upon his frame as they propelled their steel-toed boots into the places their hands could not reach. They left him half-dead, with their thunderous echoes of "wetback" and "freeloader," swirling like oil and water within his head.
Ash gray gravel unearthed red rivers from his palms as he crawled towards the highway. He pleaded against the Grim Reaper, not for his sake, but for his mother, wife, and toddler who awaited his return.
A man clothed in 13 stripes and 50 stars pulled over when he saw the dying man upon the roadside. Gratitude warmed the man's soul as the rescuer approached with phone in hand. Yet that hope converted to a tightening apprehension as the self-proclaimed patriot kept his phone at bay. The unaware flag desecrater displayed a flawless smile as he asked if the man was legally an American. The dying man gave lying assurances which pleaded outside Suspicion's fortress; the wall which encircled fear. Unsure of whom to call, the ambulance or border patrol, the anchor baby of European ancestors chose a compromise. He pocketed his phone as he left the man at death's door. Never mind that the injured man worked harder than the co-workers who beat him and looted him when they found out that his citizenship wasn't approved.
A prosperity preacher saw the dying man and passed by with nary a deceleration; a sticker plastered upon his bumper proclaimed "God helps those who help themselves."
A night, naked of light, overtook the man's consciousness ever so briefly.
When he awoke, he saw a woman's hand tenderly placed upon his heart. Her display of compassion began to heal his soul as he looked skyward, and saw the woman's face, encircled by a hijab of snowy white. Her eyes were closed as she was in the midst of a prayer. A dove flew overhead, an anomaly in that night. When the woman opened her eyes she told him an ambulance was on the way and that everything would be paid for.
When the rabbi finished his story, he asked, "Now, who would you say was a neighbor to the man who was left for dead?"
The congressman with a lower case 't' pinned upon his lapel hung his head in shame as he replied, "the woman."
Jesus, also known as The Way, the Truth, and the Life, replied with compassion. "Then go and do as she would do."
- Written by C.A. Nicholas.
**Based on the Expanded Bible (EXB) version of Luke 10:25-37.**
(Alternate Cover Photo)