Friday, February 13, 2015

Meet Your Neighbors //

Driving around town, running errands. I stopped for gas and as I was pulling back out to go home I paused for some pedestrians to cross first. At first glance I saw a white couple with a stroller coming from the right and a middle aged black man coming from the left. I took a minute to really look at them both. The man on the left looked really put together. The couple on the right, I realized, werent a couple and were certainly homeless, their stroller was filled with bundles of clothes. A little dog was tagging along behind them and I smiled. The man saw me see the pooch and he nodded and smiled at me. You dont have to travel far from my neighborhood to see homeless people but this man and woman were literally four blocks from my house -- they were in my neighborhood practically. I went home with their faces in my mind.

A couple hours later I ran out to get some more paint, as this was in the middle of my remodel work a few weeks ago. Driving down the main street I saw them again. The same homeless people from earlier! I have been practicing stopping the first time someone stands out to me but especially when they cross my path a second time. Im too aware to ignore the orchestration of that. So I looped around a couple of blocks, parked my car and walked around the corner to meet up with them. As I came walking up they didnt think anything at first but then I greeted them, not the people walking behind them, and they lit up. I explained how Id seen them earlier and then just had to come say hello when I saw them again. We introduced ourselves and talked about work and where we are from. I met their dog. They thanked me for stopping and we went our separate directions.

Time passes. Ive thought of them. I hoped that was the first of several interactions, the beginning of building relationship with them, with Zach and with Merrill. Then the blizzard hit. Superbowl Sunday and I was snowed into my house, watching the snow pile up on the sills of my windows outside, closing me in and as I went to sleep I wondered if they had found shelter from the storm. I was genuinely concerned. I dont remember if it was that night or another night but I had a dream that I ran into them again, that they were fine, theyd survived the storm. I was so relieved.

The following week I walked out of church late and as I was headed toward my car I saw a man running across the street to meet someone, carrying a little dog above his head. The site made me smile but then I recognized the man! It was Zach, running to meet Merrill near the Goodwill. So excited I called out to them and they recognized me right away. They were impressed that Id remembered their names and I was touched that they recalled mine. "We survived the storm!" Merrill said. Praise God! They asked how I was settling in and if Id made many friends yet. I told them about Cornerstone Church and turned out that Zach is friends with the man who owns the theatre that we hold church in on Sundays. I know the benefit of having a dog when youre homeless, having that companion, and I also know that it limits you from being able to enter certain places. I hope it wont be cause for them not to wander into Cornerstone some Sunday though. I cant wait to see them again.

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