And God is unchanged.
We rolled down the east coast back in June on a mission trip.
And saw and lived New York, Brooklyn.
Down in her belly, for some hours. We are marked and changed.
A day can jump all over a soul who has no hope. Who wears fatigue like a worn out flannel shirt, with holes and missing buttons.
The day can drag you down as you stare and stand on a subway platform, weary worn out.
The eyes tell almost all you need to know. You know those hollow weary orbs.
I asked her if she’d play the game, designed to bring some joy. Her body spent, she sat. I sat. We sat. For minutes lives merged in the belly of a city. On the platform.
If you stop and take a minute and look ’em in the eyes, and tell them a little of your story and invite them to play, well things begin to happen.
We came to bring some joy to the subway with our scrabble game, all taped up on the subway tiles. Some Christ Hope. The ministry of presence presents itself selfless, as a gift.
But the giver is the receiver and the giver drowns in blessings, down in the bottom of a dirty city, white pants worn, standing out like neon in a dark dank place.
We entered in and invited in and stood for hours, rats ran by, and smiles beamed bright.
People told their stories, to us. To strangers.
We were the strangers in a city needing soft and gentle. Hungry for the words, taped up on the tiles.
There is a world of hurt and a hurting world. And people really want a minute of your time, to play, even if its scrabble taped up on the walls.
People don’t have strangers care, enough.
And we don’t play enough. The letters in the basket, taped up on the wall, the group effort, the spirit of community.
Taking the love of Christ, down, down, down, and to to to.
There was one woman, I am haunted by her story. And her face and her eyes and her hurt. You can stand on the platform and smile and care and you can be a receptacle of pain. I watched as others poured out love into a hurting soul.
I merged with my own past on that platform. I see myself now, haunted by the lonely subway rides and waits, alone. It was 1980 something and I lived in the City. There are enough lonely stares to fill a Milky Way, little twinkling eyes, dim and grim.
You can bring a salty boat load of joy to a sea of hurt all the way from Charleston, South Carolina and dump it right there.
On the platform.
And on a day when winds blow through the nation and a N’or Easter simmers off the coast, and New York is in a world of pain, you can spread your salty joy, your Christ-love, your Christ-hope right smack dab where you are.
You don’t need duct tape or painters tape and cut out letters and a very clever puzzle, though it is a beautiful tool. A joy magnet.
The salty tears, and salty Mercy work to salve a wound.
You can stand in line, you might today, to vote.
And you can stand in awe of what Jesus’ love does when it meets someone in their world of hurt.
Look ’em in the eyes and put on your listening ears. Your Mercy ears. Your sweet compassion, an eagerness to know, their story.
Wear it to the polls, and wear it on your sleeve, and wipe a tear with Hope.
You can find a hurting soul in the line at The Pig or Trader Joe’s or Walmart I am sure.
Brooklyn has her fair share now, and she did in June too.
There was a man who wore 500 tatooes for a shirt and he was mad. He was madder than mad. At this world and at this life and wore his pain like a badge. But Margaret smiled her smile and stayed in love, in the conversation.
Love stays. It doesn’t leave. Love presses in, in gentleness.
He swore he wouldn’t play the game. But a mind can change and love can soften. And he did.
And his story leaked out like an old Chevy leaking oil, right there on that platform.
Margaret wiped it up with a Mercy rag.
My insides wept and maybe my outsides too when we left Brooklyn.
They haunt me, those faces. Maybe I’ll find a hurting soul in line to vote and ask him if he wants to play. Or maybe I’ll just smile and look into his eyes.
It is sad we tell our kids to watch out for strangers. We do. We must.
Strangers are the ones who seem to hurt the most.
If you have any interest at all in Part One, it is here. Or you can read yesterday’s post, which will accomplish the same thing. Bless you for being here on this journey. Wishing you a boatload of grace today.
Linking with Heather.