How busy are lives tend to be as we move consciously and sometimes unconsciously from task to task, meeting to meeting; trying desperately to stay on schedule and not miss a beat for fear that like a train on a railroad track, one bump in the road could jostle a car and then it’s an unavoidable wreck for the world to see. We end up consuming our day with ourselves and everything WE need to get done. We focus on our family, our job, our leisure if possible just so that WE are somewhat satisfied and gratified with the days or weeks accomplishments, but amidst the doing, do we ever just stop for a moment and look around??
Last week, I was sitting in a restaurant downtown Nashville enjoying a quiet dinner with friends. It was a corner table and on two sides there were tall glass windows overlooking the sidewalk and street outside. Night had settled, streets lights were systematically flashing, greens, yellows and reds and the orange street lights showered the ground with rays of light so even the cracks and crevices could be detected in the sidewalk if you happened to look hard enough. As I sat in the very temperature controlled room, sipping on a ice water with lemon, I stared out the window at the many passers-by, couples with arms linked or best friends giggling about the days events. Then the rain started to fall, gently at first but then like the heavens were wringing out the clouds, the rain became heavy and at times it was hard to see across to the other side of the street. It was as I watched this overpowering flow of water that I noticed a homeless man, grey jacket and ball cap, strolling up the sidewalk with a Taco Bell drink in hand. He strolled slowly, obviously believing that running would not help him further escape the clutches of the rain that had already wrapped their arms around him. I remembered him from one of our feedings under the bridge and it was at that moment that I realized how I don’t often enough take the time to really study my environment and what is going on around me. Yes I am part of the feeding programs and do what I can for “others” but do I really take the time I should to observe those around me and see that it isn’t all about me. It isn’t all about what makes me happy or that my life is fulfilled. That I possess everything I’ve ever desired or that I have notoriety or fame. Everything I mentioned is fleeting and doesn’t truly change a life; it doesn’t witness and testify as to how great life can be and how awesome God is!
How important it is to pay attention as we walk through a mall, down the street, at a restaurant or even in our own home. Watch what those around you are going through, enduring, feeling, living. Drive through neighborhoods both affluent or non-affluent and watch the families as they walk, play in their front yards or sit on their front stoop staring out across the street wondering what their next day may bring. Be receptive and open to approaching someone as they sit on a park bench or as they wait for a city bus and notice if they have tears in their eyes or a wandering look that reflects pain or uncertainty. Observe that co-worker or even spouse as they appear distant, hurt or angry. Talk to them if you can or pray for them; asking God to place someone in their life that can assist them in whatever it is they are facing.
We can’t fix the world’s problems let alone the city we live in, but we can take some time out of our day and notice our brothers and sisters around us. We can pray for those who we feel are in need, hurting or alone. We can be reminded that it isn’t about us, it’s about them!