When a child is asked, “What does journey mean?” the immediate response is often a trip to the train station, the airport or driving in their car. What does our journey look like? This week has taken me to pockets of our city that I never knew existed, and afforded me the opportunity to meet with people on so many varying phases of their own journeys. When I think of my EARLIER life’s journey, I can see that they were more about destinations, goal achievements or just doing something I wanted to do or thought I should do.
This week opened so many new views of what my journey now looks like and maybe with my writing, you will have an opportunity to see your journey in a different light. My week started with a mom of a student I have been tutoring for the last several weeks advising me that her son was concerned, SHE SAID “P… was concerned that you didn’t work with him last week, and wanted me to find out if you were okay. Had he done something wrong?” After I picked myself up and caught my breath, I explained to this mom that I had been asked to do something else and when I got to tutoring he was already working with someone else and I chose not to interrupt them. I was so moved that this new 10 year old friend could voice such concern for another person. Needless to say, mom knows her son very well, so it didn’t take much convincing for her to know that her son did nothing wrong, but that he did warm my heart by his questioning why I was missing in action. We were able to get back together this week and he was anxious to tell me about the book he was reading and launched us into a discussion about discrimination, and why people can’t be friends with one another. This young man’s journey has been full of twists and turns, yet his heart and mind are directed in a very positive direction. How cool would it be if we all could think like my dear friend, P…! I also learned that I will be sure to acknowledge my young friend whenever he comes to tutoring when I’m not lucky enough to work with him.
I wrote earlier about the two fine women I am honored to help pick up and distribute fruits and vegetables that we gather at the Food Bank. They still outwork me by a significant margin, but this week I was blessed with the opportunity to see diaconate work in process. During our food gathering time, at the food bank, the ladies were conversing in Arabic while working feverishly at gathering up all that we were entitled to take. When there was a break in their conversation, I questioned them if everything was okay. They reminded me that we had not had an adequate portion to give to the last families we visited a couple of weeks ago, and that we should not forget to drop off some additional food for them this time, so that they will be okay until we come back the next time. The discussion they were having would have needed someone very experienced in the use of the computer spreadsheets to do the calculation of what 18 families received last time, and how many are in each family, and what would they need to “make it” until our next scheduled visit. Talk about “Love of our Neighbor”! Well, I invite you to make a mental picture of the last few sentences, and you will have it. The original seven Deacons were given the responsibility to bring bread to the widows. These fine people do it week after week out, and “MORE…MUCH MORE”!
This was the alternate week where we were afforded the opportunity to deliver food to several housing complexes that are homes for from 4 to 18 families. These fine people don’t have transportation, so we bring the food to them. They wait in the parking lot of their apartment complex for us to arrive, their very young children in tow and their babies secured to their chest, and help one another parcel out the portions we are able to give providing potatoes, kale, spinach, tomatoes, onions, fruits and other vegetables for the number of family members who live at that location. The love, care and appreciation they show toward one another and toward us is heartwarming, as it in no way resembles the chaos at an Apple Store when people are gathered to purchase the latest electronic gadget. Another beautiful example of how journeying in the Kingdom should look.
One day this week, a young homeless man came to the door when tutoring was just beginning. I went over and introduced myself and asked him (I will call him Joe) if I could help him. Joe said that he met a man last week who told him that we tutor refugee children every week, and Joe felt he might be able to help. After a brief, maybe too brief, introduction to the coordinator of volunteers, Joe and I worked with a young student on her homework. Joe was very nervous and quiet for the first few minutes until the student asked for an explanation on what she was to do. Joe quickly picked up the paper, read the instructions, and in setting the paper before the student, explained that she was to find the differences between the two drawn pictures laid side-by-side. The student would point at something she thought might be different and Joe would gently suggest that maybe it looked exactly like the other picture and that may be it wasn’t one of the differences. The assignment was to find 10 points of difference and I must be honest, the three of us only found a couple. When snack time came the student offered to share some of the orange that she was given. Joe and I declined until our young friend said, “I had enough…would you like this piece?” Joe accepted the offering and our friend had a smile from ear to ear, and so did I. We may have not had great success in discovering the 10 points of difference between the two pictures, but the three of us had a positive step in our journey of life.
After the students left on the Networks Van, and cleanup was complete, Joe met with the coordinator and expressed an interest in coming back to help the children, if it would be okay. When I was walking to my car Joe stopped me and thanked me for giving him an opportunity to help. Joe may or may not come back, but he left an impression on the student and many of the other volunteers gathered to help this group of young people trying to learn a new language in a new country. Two days later in another part of town several blocks away, I ran into Joe, and he approached me with a warm smile and thanked me again for the opportunity to help. When I asked Joe if he needed a ride, he said, “No, I’m walking up to the Nazarene Church down the street where I used to attend, and say a prayer for the refugees”.
There are so many views we can take on this journey we are on, and I pray that I always have open eyes to see the splendor that is around us in so many different shapes and sizes. May your journey be full of promise and hope!