When I Really Saw Homeless People And Didn’t Look Away
On one of my recent trips to New York City, I got up with my usual 5:00 am alarm and headed out for a run along the East River. Because I’ve been traveling so much lately, I hadn’t realized how dark it was at o’dark-thirty. When I got to the path along the river and it was still this dark, I questioned the wisdom of being out so early, but the sight of another runner made me feel better.
I think part of my confusion over the dark mornings stems from how warm it has been lately, and this morning was no exception. I sometimes gripe about unseasonably warm weather in the fall, but that day was different.
I had been reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, Pastrix, and my head was full of thoughts of God’s love and mercy. Those thoughts came bubbling up as I noticed several homeless people sleeping on benches along the path. Instead of doing my best to not notice them, I said a prayer for them–hoping that they somehow know that they are beloved children of God. And, instead of griping about the warm, humid air, I realized that they probably welcomed the delay of the cold weather that will make their nights outside uncomfortable and dangerous.
By the time I got back to my starting point, the sky was light, and the path was much busier. Maybe I shouldn’t have been out running on my own so early, but this run ended up being so much more than getting in a few miles before a business meeting. I know homeless people need more than my prayers, and I do support organizations that help homeless people where I live, but for some reason this run helped me open my eyes and my heart–and not just my wallet–to their daily plight. I think that somehow that matters–to me, to them, and to God.
And, just to show you that I wasn’t kidding about the humidity ….
Have you ever been surprised at how “far” a run has taken you?
What is the etiquette for getting a post-run Starbucks when you look like this, anyway?