Someday, when you’re old and grown, I hope that I am still in your life. I want to sit down with you over coffee and hear how you’re doing, about the college classes you’re taking, about whether or not you finally like math. I’ll look at the suit and tie you’re wearing, perhaps, and I’ll remind you of all the grass stains I oxy-cleaned from your jeans on a daily basis.
But more than anything, I will need to explain how much you changed me. Right now, you’re not ready, but you should know. Someday.
The other day, when we drove by the school where I work, we saw a few families pushing their shopping carts full of their earthly possessions. They were on their way to the homeless shelter across the street.
I asked if you knew where they were going.
You looked out the window. You said you used to sleep there when there was no where else to go.
I am used to you telling me these things, but I felt a familiar stabbing pain in my heart, nonetheless.
You see, since I work across the street, I know for a fact that we were probably there at the same time.
And I grimace just to think.
How many times did I pass you by?
How many times did I see you out of the corner of my eye, hurting and alone?
How many times did I rush off, worried about my next errand?
Could I have stopped? Could I have made sure you and your brother had enough to eat?
Or were my eyes calloused and clouded?
You don’t know this, but Jesse and I almost bought a house down this same street a few years back. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was concerned about the house’s proximity to the very same homeless shelter. I was worried that someone might break into our house and steal our stuff.
Little did I know that just a year later, we would invite you to with open hearts to “break into” our lives on a daily basis.
Because of you, I notice these people now. Just yesterday, I saw a woman with a stroller full of her clothes, holding a baby and waiting for the shelter doors to open. I didn’t just notice someone sketchy on the side of the road, I saw her. She took my breath away, in fact.
Because of you, I saw a hero, doing everything within her power to reach out for help. Instead of seeing another reason to lock my car door, I saw a person. You gave me that gift.
The most ironic part about the shelter you used to stay in is that, back when it was a church, due to it’s location, my high school used to rent their classrooms. My classmates and I used to take classes there, in fact. I remember cutting out pictures for the school yearbook in the very room you used to sleep in. I used to sit at a desk in that room and dream about one day saving the world.
I thank God that instead of allowing me the save the world, he allowed me to spend just a few months with you.
Because, although you don’t know it yet, calloused eyes take a long time to heal. Just as security and unconditional love feel foreign to you at this time, the absence of them is alien to me and so many others. It’s easy to fear what the unknown brings, but it’s even harder to welcome it.
I hope that you never forget where you’ve come from, because you have already learned that one doesn’t need to be afraid. You show me this with the way you smile and embrace the unknown with such joy. You’ve had so little in life that your arms are wide open, unencumbered.
Someday, I hope to get the chance to thank you for breaking into our lives and hearts. Thank you for embracing this broken and beautiful world with us, one day at a time.
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