Thursday, 26 March 2015

Seeing the Opportunity

I sat at my desk doing regular admin stuff. 
Trying to keep mind thinking about the weather and kids and dinner.
Life as I know it.
Not perfect, but pretty nice in the grand scheme of things.

He walked in and he wasn't the usual type who walks into an arts centre and gallery in the middle of the day.

He told me he was trying to get his poetry published and was wondering where to start.

I thought for a minute, knowing we didn't offer those services or helps...
"That's great", I said, "unfortunately we don't provide anything like that here..."

He interrupted before I could finish the sentence, defensive...noticeably too familiar with being shut-down, turned away, cut-off.

"I wasn't saying you guys did that stuff...."

And then the transparency and the truth. 
Raw and hard to hear, yet surprising and maybe refreshing in its rareness.

"It's just that I'm homeless ya know...yeah, I live at that know, drugs and alcohol. And I write and I want to do something with it, and I don't really know where to start."

Time stopped for me right there, right then. 
Dinner and the weather and other diversions seemed a long way off in the distance.

I looked at him - in his eyes.
All of the things he just told me....I wouldn't have known.
He just seemed like an edgy kid, with a cold, in a hoodie.

I repositioned myself to let him know that I wasn't distracted.
My leg brushed the panic button dangling under the desk.

"That's really great that you're using your creativity...have you tried the library? They sometimes have writers circles and they could probably gear you in the right direction."

His gaze was intense. 
And I met it with mine.
"Thanks, do you have to pay for those circles", he asked.

I told him I was pretty sure they were free.

He turned to leave, and then paused and looked back...
"Hey, do you want to hear one of my poems?"

I told him I'd love to.

He took off his hood and straightened his ball cap. He almost started and then smiled and said, "it's from 2008 and it's at least 30 seconds DON'T interrupt me."

He shared from memory, it was rhythmic spoken word, and it was a statement on how society tells you they care, but they usually don't. 
He was flawless.

I didn't look away once. I watched him for the duration. 


I told him it was awesome.
He did a great job.
He asked me my name and told me his.
He said thanks for the info.
I told him good luck.

I was struck by his transparency. 
He had a lot to hide - we all do - but he didn't hide it.

He vulnerably offered up what he had to offer and took the chance that someone would want to hear it. Why do I think my offering might not measure up?

He asked for help and direction, and gave ME the opportunity to jump into his path for a split second. Why do I fake strength where I'm weak...and forgo the opportunity for growth and community?

I am well acquainted with the journey, downfalls and lifelong struggles of addiction. I know that he has a hard road ahead of him. 

But I happen to believe that God's got his number, and knows His name...and that He's got better plans for him than addiction and homelessness and struggle. I believe because of this:

I want to walk through life with open mind, open heart, and open hands.
I want to be part of the movement that restores...and sees the promise behind the pain.
That day, that interaction, it was a Divine set-up. 
It was an opportunity.
I'm thankful for it.
I always want to see the opportunity.

Check out this guys' opportunity and what he did with it ~ amazing.

A Pizza Shop Customer's Kind Gesture Turns Into Pay-It-Forward Campaign


Tondra Denise said...

LOVE this for so many reasons! I currently direct a program that provides childcare for families experiencing homelessness and one thing that I have learned, am learning, and will learn is that everyone has a story... (and we just want it to be heard). Thank you for sharing this today!

rosemond cates said...

Love this. I'm so glad you were the one he walked up to...not everyone is so kind.

Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful story - I'm thinking he will always remember the time and encouragement you gave him. Thanks for sharing. I'm popping over from Chatting at the Sky - so glad I did.