After years of downtown driving I have come to the conclusion that no one is comfortable with street corner encounters, usually involving a hand-scribbled note on a cardboard square. I am not. I suspect these individuals are not either—all day they are ignored as they hustle for a glimmer of recognition, of eye contact, of hope.
On my way to a friends’ party downtown one evening, I shared my potluck dessert with a man I regularly see. I drove on as the light turned green, half pleased with myself for having stopped, half embarrassed that all I had offered was fudge. His eyes had met mine: Clear, piercing, blue. Just like my daughters’.
About a week later, I was repeating my bedtime ritual which involves whispering prayers over my girls while they rest . I was marveling at the speed with which my oldest is growing. I stood in amazement at this person that I have walked with and loved for the past four years. I found myself trying to imagine what she might look like when she is older—ten or twelve. My own age, and even how she will age. Suddenly hot tears were streaming down my cheeks as I imagined who would be caring for her when I am not—If the unimaginable happened and she found herself asking for help on a street corner, could anyone really see her with the depth of love that I have—that she deserves?
I imagine on some level that this is the universal plea of a parent.
My mind wandered back to the man with whom I had shared dessert on the corner of Broadway and Park—the one who’s eyes shined like my daughter’s. Mustn’t this be the plea of his parents, too? That the world might stop and see him for the man he was created to be? That it might be kind? That it would be safe? And, if circumstances called for it, that the world would be generous?
And there it is—simultaneously my answer, my challenge & my prayer: To look with eyes of love that I might see with the eyes of love.
I cannot drive past that corner any longer without thinking of this man’s family—which forces me to recognize him as a son. He is to be looked at and cared for as a beloved child in the same way I hope for my own children to be. As complex as this is, the Son of God calls us into ‘the muck of human existence’ to bring about the Reign of God on earth. This is the Incarnation.
This is family.