As I write this entry from my comfortable Manhattan apartment Albert is sleeping on the street outside my window. Knowledge of his presence and the weight that it brings upon my soul matches the theme of my day.
As I walked around East Harlem today handling various pieces of business, I couldn’t turn to the right or the left without coming face-to-face with the brokenness that defines normal life in my community. The sights, smells and sounds of my block are some of the strangest, saddest and at times terrifying that you could imagine. The destitute are everywhere-my block is full of people with nowhere left to go– everything they own in the shopping cart tied to their leg–people with a stench that carries to the next block–people who I see everyday–
Today I’m afraid I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded.
I lied to someone and told him I didn’t have any change.
I walked by several folks who would have benefited from just a smile or a word of encouragement–I offered neither…
Tonight as I was walked the block I contemplated my failures in sharing grace and mercy throughout the day. As I approached my apartment I noticed a familiar sight near the entry way–a pair of feet.
Someone was sleeping at my door.
To put it more clearly, someone was sleeping in front of my door.
After a fleeting moment of frustration, my heart was broken. On a day full of situations where I had failed to show even the simplest form of mercy or compassion here again I was face-to-face with some of the saddest brokenness you’ll find in the United States.
As I entered the building I couldn’t make it far, sitting on the pew in my lobby tears came to my eyes. I sat there for a moment certain there was nothing I could offer the gentleman outside– I couldn’t get him a house– I have no money to offer– I don’t even know a shelter I could take him too.
In my desire to solve all of his problems I failed to think of my role in the proper light. I don’t have to do everything, I am just called to do what I can.
This new train of thought brought to mind something I could do and I did it. I didn’t solve anyones problems but I shared and did something.
I was blessed with the opportunity to talk with Albert. I was blessed to hear he is a believer in God and hasn’t lost hope that he is waking him up morning after morning. I encouraged him and prayed with him and told him I hoped to see him tomorrow. He assured me I would.
Oh how I hope I do…
As a pastor and teacher it’s hard to write things like this that don’t tie up neatly and make a clear teachable point. I’m just thankful I got to meet Albert. On a day when I’ve passed on countless opportunities to show grace and compassion, I’m thankful the Lord provided one last opportunity before I hang this day up-
I hope I see Albert tomorrow–
I hope to hear more of his story–
I hope to see his smile–
I hope to share my Father’s love–
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