in the park

Every morning I get up very early and work out with a group of people in a nearby park. It's one of those organized things, where the guy in charge very nicely yells at you to do more run more jump more and you do it because you need to and also because it's fun. I've been doing it for awhile now and the group is friendly enough, companionable in the sense that we are all doing this together.

Two days ago we were on a little run and in a line we passed by a parked car. I see the people in front of me turn their heads as they go and when I pass I see a cat, a pile of blankets, and a kid and I immediately know it means some folks are sleeping in their car.

So I drop out of the line and run over to the car and I see a woman and a few kids and a couple of cats all piled inside. She's nervous when I approach so I talk to her through the window a bit, I tell her what I used to do and that I mean no offense but if they are without a place to stay maybe I can help. So she rolls down her window and we talk a good long while and I promise I'll connect her as soon as I'm done with this jumping around stuff. As it always has, my heart breaks for the kids, especially the one not much older than mine who jumps out of the car to get dressed in the street before school. Her little face is dirty but her smile is bright. They've been living like this since February.

They've been living like this since February.

So I fall back in with the class and there are some whispers, what was that what's going on are those people in their car and I briefly share and I also share that this is what I used to do and do in different ways today. Folks react in a way I am surprised by, they start telling me I am so good for doing this and I get embarrassed and a bit weird because I haven't done anything yet and this family is still in their car and it's awful. Later at work I recount it for my in the business friends and they understand my awkwardness because to them these sorts of interactions are normal and certainly not worth making a big deal over, it's simply what they do.

So today I go back a bit happier, because in the meantime I've connected the family with some housing options but am frustrated because it's going to take a few days. So I bring some food to give to them after class was over but during class others said they've brought food too.

So after class is over I walk over with some food and several others are coming too. So different from yesterday, today we are all gathered around the car, one woman is giving the kids all kinds of food. One of the guys is looking under the engine of the car, another helping load things in the back. There is talk of other ways to help, bringing dinner, clothes, a mechanic. They are inspired to do more.

All of a sudden the littlest girl starts jumping up and down Look mama, water! Look mama, bread! And in that space my heart cracks in half, little girls excited over bread and water is wrong on so many levels it nearly makes me cry. Our new friend looks at all of us, she does start to cry and thanks everyone over and over. She hugs us and we hug her and I promise to get in touch with her tomorrow. I know we'll figure this thing out.

I look at my peers and I see their faces, the generosity and kindness and everything else. I see they are moved by this moment and I am too. What created discomfort yesterday turned into love and action today. Strangers are now friends. It's so easy to do the right thing.

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