Friday, July 27, 2012

The Least of These

I left my littlest ones for the first time earlier this week, overnight. For two nights. This Mama just doesn't do that well. My Mama didn't do it well either. My Grandfather (Dad's side) passed away on July 4th, and we gathered in Washington to remember and honor him. The boys were left in the capable hands of my husband and I really didn't worry at all about them. He does so amazing with the three of them and he doesn't get frazzled easily. 

While the trip was not without it's sadness and hard times, we made the best of it and shacking up in a room with my parents and my little sister really did feel like old times before we were married and before the kids. 

Typically I've not been one to take risks, like I've said before, I have always played it safe. Something is changing in me, and while I will never be one to take a risk just for the sake of a risk, I am beginning to see things differently and look for opportunities to step out of my comfort zone.

We got into Portland Monday night, it was about 10:00pm and my parents headed to the hotel room. My sister and I decided to take the MAX into downtown Portland and find something to munch on. My Portland friends and family may be cringing right now at the time of night and the fact it was just my sister and I, but honestly I wasn't worried. 
I think I've only ridden the MAX once, and it was definitely with seasoned riders, not my little sister. We fumbled our way through the ticket system, engaging a few people in conversation along the way and hoped we picked the right one. By our calculations, we had time to go into downtown, grab something to eat, jump back on the MAX to the airport, call our hotel's shuttle and get back to the hotel before midnight. 

We opted to get off at the Skidmore stop instead of Chinatown and then hiked back up a few blocks toward Voodoo Donut. We'd only been walking a few minutes when we spotted a young boy, maybe 5 and a young woman with him. She looked a bit frantic. He was carrying what looked to be his prized stuffed animal, a bear in a bunny coat, and she asked for help. She pulled out a business card and asked us if we knew where this was. It was a policeman's card and it was the address of the police station. Since we weren't from there, my sister pulled out her iPhone and looked it up on the GPS, she was about 4 blocks north of her destination and as we told her she was on the right street but needed to keep walking, she looked visibly discouraged. She said she was emotional and frazzled. I instantly thought she was fleeing from someone. I asked her if we could walk her the rest of the way, she didn't even have a phone. She said that would be a lot to ask, and I again offered. She declined saying she knew she was on the right road now, and would be able to get there. 

As I watched them walk away I couldn't help feel like I should have forced myself on her and walked her and her young boy to the police station. We were heading to donuts, and she was heading from something. Different ends of the spectrum, walking the same road, to two different destinations. 

I was reminded that there are people all around us struggling, looking for something, going through something huge, yet walking along side of us and we have no idea. It reminded me to be aware, to be conscience and to always be looking outward instead of inward, remembering that it's not about me. This life I live, it isn't for myself, it's for others. 

We stood in a relatively short line for Voodoo and then hopped across the street for a slice of Dante's pizza, plopped down at a table and watched downtown Portland unfold. Homeless people were scouring for a place to sleep, asking for spare change and checking the trash for any discarded food. One little street corner held men in business suits drinking cocktails, groups of teens eating donuts by the dozens, men and women with everything they owned on their backs and my sister and I. It was fascinating to take in, and a tangible reminder of how blessed I am, how blessed we are. 

We hopped back on the MAX only to realize seconds before it took off we were on the wrong one and the one we wanted wasn't running anymore that night. We realized the only way we were getting back to our hotel was a taxi. We hailed one down and drove home in the back of a comfortable car, shelling out the $30 to get us back to our hotel with clean sheets and soft pillows.

I think about that young boy and his Mama often, and I think about the people downtown looking for the best spot to lay their head after a day of walking and pleading and hunger. I am blessed. You are blessed. We are called to use our blessings to help others, not so we can be blessed more. How can we do this? What might this look like for you and I? 
I challenge you to take a step outside of your comfort zone and look in your own city, see what exists beyond your four walls and your bed. And then see what you might do to help....

PS: This is a picture of my Dad on the right, and Jack on the left. Family resemblance much!?


  1. Living here in Portland is always an experience. I'll be praying for that young boy and mom... and keeping my eyes open for them.