The floors were glistening, the windows shining, the lights glittering, the displays eye-catching. Department stores 4- and 5- floors high, bookstores, boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops - you name it, this place had it!
In case you're wondering, I am describing today's visit to Mall Plaza Vespucio, a beautiful shopping mall in an upper-crust section of Santiago. The purpose of our visit was to price appliances (washer, dryer, etc.) at the department stores. It was fun to walk around and look at the variety of items on display, and even to splurge on a dozen Dunkin' Donuts for the whopping price of 5300 pesos - yes, that is really $10 BUCKS!! - for one dozen. (My sister and I had to split the donuts and the price so that it didn't feel quite so sinful!)
On the drive home, however, we passed several open air markets and vendors selling their wares on the street corners. At one intersection in particular, we waited to turn the corner while an older woman painstakingly crossed the street. Both of her feet were turned inward and her handicap forced her to walk ever so carefully and slowly, and with assistance. She was obviously poor.
A few miles down the road, we again paused at an intersection. This time, a woman approached the stopped cars and handed a small card through each window. The card indicated that she was a deaf mother, marginalized by society and unable to find work. (Unfortunately, this is probably quite true here in Chile.) The card asked that the reader, as a hearing person, would find the compassion to extend a coin to this woman.
Such a study in contrasts! The luxurious mall with its high-class shoppers versus the street vendors and beggars. Such is life in this country, as in much of Latin America.
May our hearts remain tender towards individuals in all walks of life, as God brings them across our path ...