She reaches out to take the offered dollar and our eyes meet for the first time. In them I see a jaded wisdom, far beyond the age her small frame carries. My years of privilege crack and fall away, piling like dust at my feet. I’m embarrassed to be standing in it, even as I take in her dirt-covered face and clothes. We’ve somehow become equals.
“I-I’m sorry,” I stammer. I know she sees through me and I wish I could cover myself somehow, but my ego stands awkwardly beside me, offering no help whatsoever.
The young girl gives me a small smile and I see her two front teeth are missing. For a moment, I forget myself, lost in the aching of my heart.
“What else can I do for you?” I blurt and with the question, I place all of my sadness and discontent on her lap. I’m asking this child for a solution to her situation and mine. I’m asking her to fix all of the suffering in the world. It feels ridiculous and I beat myself up inwardly for speaking but the words and intentions are out there already, beyond my control… And so I wait for her humbling response.