Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Not to Let Your Heart Break

I flew across the country on my birthday. Leaving behind all that is familiar and comfortable, I knew this would be wonderful and terrible all at once.

I have been here before, to the City by the Bay. I always say, "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Truth be told, my flesh spirit would not want to live there.

When the lights go down in this city, and the sun shines on the Bay, if you are out on the streets you will see sleeping bags stirring on the sidewalks and hotels hosing off the debris from the night. Thousands live without conveniences, and call it a simple life. Many choose to call the sidewalks their homes, staking out claims on public property with no mail boxes. Arguments ensue if you are close enough and late enough to overhear...this is MY spot...I've been here for all this time..

If you are coming home from work, or a conference, or shopping...you may see a girl on Fourth Street, tangled hair, looking down, sitting on the walk by the street facing toward pedestrians with a white Guinea pig and white cup at her crossed legs.

If you are having a happy conversation with colleagues, recounting the day behind, planning the time ahead...you may be approached by a large black man, knuckles outstretched, singing a song for you to join in...fist-bumps ensue, then hand turns palm upward. "Have ya got a dolla' for me?" And seeing a wallet full, he will ask for a second dollar. Then a third.

What can one person do? Thousands sleep in open air, beg for the next ten cents, fifty cents, dollar. An Asian lady crushes water bottles so as to fit more into her meager bag, using a reaching tool to pull back one that rolls out of reach. I want to pick it up for her.

I want to look that girl in the face - the one with the white Guinea pig - and ask her, "What are you doing here?" Doesn't she have a mother who cares? A grandmother? What if she does not?

What am I to do?

I rationalize...if you feed one, he will tell his friends. Next thing you know, there are a dozen. Like the sea gulls at the park.

I ask my soul what Jesus would do.
At the pool of Bethesda, he healed only one.
But at other homes and in the wilderness, he fed and healed all.

This isn't working.

It is a complicated issue, I counter with myself.

I am only here for five days.

In the end, what do I do? I fill my thoughts with what I need to do next...the t-shirts for the children in my life...the Park I haven't seen yet...the new friend waiting for today's adventure. This is how I cover my heart.

This is how I keep my heart from falling at my feet, shattered, broken, spent...

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