Monday, May 5, 2008

20 miles, and Still a Long Way to Go

I'm finally dried out from the walk for Hunger yesterday. Actually, today, when I pulled money out of my bag to pay for Ella's Dr.'s visit, I had to apologize that it was wet - so not TOTALLY dry :). But, I'm more grateful for a hot shower, warm food, and a good nights sleep than I ever thought I could be.

Walking 20 miles is tough. But when it starts pouring (and I do mean POURING) at mile 5, you begin reviewing the mass transit map in your head to see if the next stop might get you safely back to your warm, dry car. However, there are signs, volunteers, police staff and supporters at every mile and at every intersection, reminding you that you are walking for an incredible cause. And we certainly had plenty of company. While it's hard to believe that exchanging my comfortable, dry, pain-free life for the sogginess I was enduring could bring help to many who are hungry...we pressed on for that reason. The group of 5 of us who started that morning all finished. And there were many, many more who were doing the same.

At the end of the 20 miles, I ran ahead a little bit (quite by accident) and found myself being asked for money by a man who was likely homeless, but certainly in need. (Ironic, isn't it??) He asked me for some spare change. I didn't have any to give him and I found myself pulling away as I said "I don't have any change." Which was very, very true. "Why not?" he asked me. I didn't have an answer for him. I thought to myself - "I'm still learning about what it's like to be you. What it's like to love someone who's needs are so complex. I'm still learning about how someone like me can help someone like you."

A couple of months ago, when the Boston Rescue Mission invited us to come down and see their program, I honestly dreaded the thought of having to give up my "precious" time. All I could think of was the hassle...and it didn't end up being easy. The childcare fell through, the parking cost a lot, and it took much longer to get there than we anticipated. When I mentioned to Steve that I sort of pictured that we'd just do the benefit and that would be the end of it - he said "You mean, you want to pay your dues and earn a little money so that you can feel good about yourself, and then be done?" Ugh...yep, that's what I wanted. I wish I could tell you I had an instantaneous heart-change, but it's more work that that. But I can honestly say that God is working in my heart - As I think about the next steps, little by little, I'm gaining the desire to really be involved in the be engaged with the PEOPLE that these program benefit. To learn how to love people in need just as Jesus did. Project Bread and the Boston Rescue Mission have made huge strides in changing my mind about the poor, but only God can change my heart. And I believe in time, He will. Someday I will be able to look at that man asking for spare change and see what God sees. I really can't wait for that day.

Today, I'm feeling grateful. Grateful for a body healthy enough to go the distance. Grateful for support from all of you across the country for this crazy adventure. Grateful for friends who would walk anywhere with me (even 20 miles in the pouring rain!!!). And grateful that my pain and discomfort were temporary...for I know that others, it is not. May the miles I've tread penetrate my heart for changing hunger and homelessness in my community...