I've never been one to journal (let alone "blogging" for the cyber world), but I am beginning to see the value in organizing your thoughts.
Yesterday I had most of the day off in preparation for the arrival of my first group today, and I found myself wandering the streets of downtown Manhattan. Eventually I wound up enjoying a heaven sent cup of hot chocolate in the midst of another rainy New York day, and began to put pen to paper in my trusty Moleskin journal. I never intended for these to public thoughts, but since my own thoughts are continuing to resonate even for me, I figured I would share what I wrote:
"February 26, 2008 -
How do you love people who are hard to love? I shared in an online post about my immersion experience (specifically meeting Max and Ryan), and the youth leader at my home church commented that Michael and I responded in the same way Jesus would have. While it was a humbling remark (and a total testament to the love and work of Christ), I unfortunately suffer from a human heart. Lets face it - Max and Ryan were "easy" to love. They were grateful for greasy $2 hot dogs and a listening ear. In reality, I think they would have enjoyed the company without the lousy peace offering. Max had years full of stories to tell, and Ryan (probably no older than me and Michael) seemed to be content to be noticed at all. But not all people are so easy to love. While we ignored the penetrating stares of hurried New Yorkers, a third man joined us under the construction scaffolding. I tried to ignore his crude comments to embarrassingly disgusted women as they passed, and I moved away to divert the starts coming my own direction. The attention disgusted me, and I was thankful to have my male coworker with me to serve as a buffer. I was also kind of glad that we had already given away our hotdogs and had no money left. When we shook hands and bid farewell to Max and Ryan, I desperately (and unsuccessfully) ignored the outstretched hand of the third stranger.
Today I was wandering the streets of southern Manhattan, and eventually found myself back in the East Village where we had met these three men. Even though I prayed that Ryan and Max had moved on to somewhere warmer and dryer, I was a little relieved to see Max asleep in front of the Public School under the same scaffolding - at least I knew he was okay! I hesitated, however, when I passed the third man from that night; yet again checking out and commenting on another pair of innocent females. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I did what I do best (especially when I don't know what else to do) - I looked him right in the eye and smiled. Now it was his turn to hesitate; obviously at a loss for words. Then do you know what he did? He thanked me. Profusely. And more genuinely than anyone ever has. I kept walking, still smiling. I grabbed lunch at McDonald's and ordered a large cup of coffee to go. I walked back to PS 122, officially introduced myself to Stevie Ray, handed him a cup of piping hot coffee, and gave him another one of life's simplest and most precious gifts. "