Our plan last week for our identifying with others was to attend a traditional Jewish Purim celebration, but due to an unexpected basketball tournament we found ourselves relating to the sports fanatic crowd. We fit into that a bit too easily as we hollered for our teams.
So this week we planned to combine last weeks plan for the Jewish synagogue and this week of putting ourselves into the shoes of the homeless of our community. So we left our home for the 1 hour drive for the Shabbat service. We got there and it was not open. So we went to an Islamic community center and it was not open. So we went to the homeless shelter and it was not open. So we went to try our hand at panhandling and we could not find an open corner. It was bizarre! Isabella was sure God was telling us that this was a silly venture and we should just go shopping and Quinn was pretty convinced it was lunch time and Kadin is always game for anything where his people are. Mike and I were becoming more and more hesitant and anxious. Our nerves and pride almost got the best of us.
We almost just gave up and went to lunch. We finally found a corner and tried to make our freshly laundered clothes and recently showered bodies appear needy. And so we sat…in humility and disgrace. As we sat and watched car after car after car pass without so much as a glance our clothes became inconsequential. The ball was then in “their” court. We were there…putting our pride aside holding a cardboard sign…and no one would even make eye contact. If they looked our way at all it was hasty and they would quickly look away. We had been concerned about being recognized or considered “too clean” but no one really saw us. No one looked long enough at us to see that we were just regular people down on our luck. We could see another panhandler with a walker across the street making the same progress with his efforts as we were. We stood in pairs for a grand total 45 minutes. Not only did we not receive even a coin we barely received recognition of existence.
We certainly did not walk away with the results we anticipated. We rarely drive by a panhandler without giving something but from now on I am sure we will give the respect of eye contact and a hello as well as a dollar.
As for the religion quest we will try again. On a high note… next to the Jewish synagogue was a Church of Christ that had a prayer labyrinth. I was very excited as I have been aware of these for several years but not seen one so elaborate. So we as a family walked through it in the rain and prayed silently and out loud. We may now have to build one in our backyard! The ancients really knew what they were doing when they created such a wonderful and peaceful ritual.
In summary, as a hitchhiker Mike once picked up said, “Everybody wants an adventure except while its happening!” This day did not go as planned but it was still a learning experience and we are together and grateful to our loving God for our many many blessings!