Friday, August 31, 2012

"I Envy You Jo"

Tuesday was a typical night - I drove up to The Mustard Seed in my little red car, said hi to the gang waiting outside for dinner, and started my usual chores:  handing out plates, chatting with the community members, clearing away coffee mugs, and all the while just seeing all the people as just people, no different than I, and I always thought they saw me as an equal as well.

But maybe I was wrong.

I was chatting with one of my homeless buddies as we usually do - about work, the street, his "issues", and then suddenly he spoke frankly:  I envy you Jo.

My first thought was, "Why would he envy me?"  Maybe it should have been an obvious answer, but I've come to know some of these people so well that they are no different to me than our neighbours across the street.  The answer did not immediately come to mind.

And then his reply:  Because you get to drive home in your car, to your house, and to your family.

Oh, how we take our everyday life for granted!  To think that a person would envy me because I live in a house, when I never think twice about it.  And to have a family, when some of these people have such battered family pasts that maybe they lay awake at night thinking about what life may have been like if they had just been born into different circumstances....

As much as I see them as the same, these people are different.  The ebb and flow of their lives has brought them to one of the harshest and violent streets in Edmonton to get a meal and find some conversation.  Some of them are homeless by choice, but I'll bet lots of them dream about the day when they won't have to stand in line for food, won't have to use an outdoor toilet in the middle of the night, and won't have to freeze for most of the day in any given January.

How blessed we are.....I'll never forget that again. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Strength in Numbers

My running program has become a little intense - this morning I ran 30 minutes, followed by 13 hill intervals, and then another 30 minutes of running.  I've been doing hill intervals for a couple of weeks, and preferred to go with a friend, since you never know what could be going on down in our river valley.  However, my running bud moved back to Scotland, and so I was faced with the prospect of doing hills alone.

However, on Saturday the 11th I plodded over to the hill to find that a guy was doing hill repeats on his bike at the same time.  Yay - I wouldn't have to be alone!  I didn't know who he was, but he was crazy enough (like I) to be up at 630 am on a Saturday to get in a brutal workout.  We passed many times, and he was still there when I left, and it was nice just to have somewhere there and not worry about potential issues popping up from the river valley.

Last Saturday, I reached the hill and found the same little white car at the top of the hill - could the bike guy be back?  Sure enough, he was!  We exchanged a cordial good morning as we passed the first time (he was going up, I was going down), and I ran without worry.  This morning, the little white car was there again.  I thought it was kind of crazy that he was doing hill repeats again after just doing them three days earlier, but then again, I was there too.

I found it interesting how just having one person around, sharing in the pain, seemed to make the work go by more quickly and not seem so difficult. 

I stepped out of my comfort zone last night and went to a movie (gak) with a bunch of ladies (barf) - a "girls night out", no less! (aargh).  Even though I wanted to go home after, I went for coffee after even though I didn't know anyone (kill me now).  However, one of the ladies made a profound comment.  To paraphrase, she said that if we are going to be in Christ, we have to grow, and in order to grow, we need to move out of our comfort zone.  Jesus said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  It's so easy to stay complacent, stay comfortable, but it's also so hard to find Christ on our own.  A solid group of friends can feed off each other, can make the journey easier, and provide strength for each other.  If I am going to grow in Christ, maybe I need to get out of my comfort zone and actually make an effort to make some lifelong friends.

They will stengthen me, just as the bike guy provided a different kind of strength.  We were designed to work in community, so why don't we all do it more often?  A pondering for another day.....