Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Through others

His face still haunts me. Clean-shaven, solemn with longing eyes. He carries a simple sign: Homeless vet; anything will help.

I first encountered him on the way to the bank to exchange money for our trip. I hadn't wanted to look up, he was the third or fourth homeless person I met on my walk to Fountain Square from the main library. I hadn't wanted to suggest I would give him money. But I couldn't help myself and, as we passed, threw a quick smile his way, then looked down. "God bless you," he said. I silently repeated the same to him.

I found him again as I sat down to Chipotle corn tacos. He was positioned just outside the window where I was eating on a high table, selected because it was away from the boisterous late-lunch crowd. I debated, do I get him a gift card or just money or nothing at all? I did give away a bundle (relatively) to my buddy Mark Anthony a few weeks ago in OTR. Ok God, what do you want? I queried and knew to deliver some cash. Suddenly, a well-dressed man was conversing with my haunter. Safe, I thought, he'll take care of it for me. Then he walked away and I saw nothing in the man's cup. As I left the restaurant, I carefully pulled the bill out and quietly walked over, slipped it into his cup, looking directly at him as, again, he murmured "God bless you. Thank you." Yes, I thought,  God has blessed me even when I don't see it. I sure hope she blesses you today.

Half a block away, a tall man was lumbering toward me with a satchel stuffed with Street Vibe, the paper about homelessness from which carriers can earn money. Hey, do you know Mark Anthony, another carrier? I asked. He politely pulled out the back page of the paper with pictures of the delivery crew and we looked together. I don't think I see him here. "Well, I just signed up as a distributor today," he replied. I wondered because I met him a few weeks ago in Over the Rhine and knew he was sick, I wanted to know how he was. Sorry I don't have money, I just gave it to the guy down the street. He smiled and walked away. Then I noticed what a sight I must have been. Waltzing around the street dressed in business casual for my two arts meetings that bookend the day with my luminous wrap-around orange scarf, the one that makes me feel enveloped, empowered and creative. Some suburban white woman cavorting with the homeless. Yes, I thought, this is where Spirit put me today.

She also placed me with some high-powered arts executives, other creatives struggling to make their non-profits succeed, artists and bussiness people. She keeps bringing me back to Over the Rhine. So much so that, as I lingered outside after my evening meeting, a woman I recognized walked by. Hey aren't you Bridget and Claudia's mom – I know you from making art in Washington Park? "Yes," she replied, untangling herself from the two dogs she was walking. "We live right here," she offered, pointing to the building next door to ArtsWave. Didn't you move from nearby? "Mt. Lookout and, you know, the girls don't even miss a house. We do everything around here, even Fountain Square seems too far sometimes," she joked.

Last fall when my Quaker Meeting discerned whether it would participate in a new program of in- and outreach called Quaker Quest, I felt that we may be called to not only invite people to our worship, which means they'd have to have cars and be able to drive to our affluent location, but spread our quiet ways to all kinds of people, namely, the poor and neglected. I still feel that way.

Spirit seems to constantly remind me about the homeless and, until I have a more solid leading, I will take it one person at a time. Perhaps it IS as simple as that.

• When did I feel Spirit was nudging me in a direction?
• How did I know?
• How did I respond?
• Who has Spirit put in my path that awakens my compassion?
• How do I respond?

first, I noticed
the eyes,
alive under
the icy stare

then the cup
and my brain
added it up

but the sign
simple, direct
and willing
to accept
any answer
my heart

why does
Spirit do that
to me?

Listen to this post:

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