On the days that I work, and I’m in the office, and the weather is nice in Ohio, and I don’t have other appointments, and all of the stars align, I spend my lunch time walking. I love walking in downtown Columbus. Every day I can walk a different direction for a couple of miles and see so many interesting sights.
Unlike a walk in the country, where my attention is drawn to nature, in the city, my attention is always drawn to humanity. Sometimes I find these people funny. Often I find them weird. And once in a while, especially if I’m walking in a secluded area, just a little bit scary.
But I’ll just tell you about my walk today. Today I walked north to an area called, “The Short North” I love this part of town, it’s been completely gentrified and I used to live there before I moved to the suburbs, got married, and basically turned very suburban-white-mini-van-soccer mom-ish.
As I’m walking north, I pass the convention center where I like to play “Guess what conference is here today” with myself. Last week there were loads and loads of Asian men: Indians and East Asians. I guessed some kind of technical convention, but it was actually a patenting conference. My favorite conference is the one every year that draws hundreds of middle aged blond ladies who wear every kind of denim known to woman-kind and sport basket-purses and wear bee pins…the Longaberger basket ladies, of course!
Anyway, after I pass the convention center I see this little old black lady sitting on the corner. I love the homeless folks. Hmmm…maybe they aren’t homeless, maybe they’re just street squatters. Maybe that particular corner is just where they hang out during the day, like I do in my cubical? Anyway, this little old lady is drinking her bottled…water(?) and yelling like a referee at a football game. At who? About what? I couldn’t gather. But it was interesting. My first reaction is curiosity, then usually followed by wonder, then honestly sometimes disgust. At some point in my meandering of judgment, the Lord speaks to me and says, “Why don’t you just shut up and pray for her?” So I do.
Then on my way back, I’m patiently waiting at a stop light when a young man with a beard and a Reds jersey weaves his way toward me. He smells like a brewery. I think to myself, “Oh, please don’t talk to me.” He passes me and stops to ask a couple next to me for money with his slurred speech. Then I start my ole’ head games again. “What is so bad in this guy’s life that he’s drunk at two in the afternoon? If I gave him money, what would he do with it?” On and on I go until the Holy Spirit talks to me again, “Hey, why don’t you shut your pie hole and pray for him.” (Does God talk to anyone else like this?)
Soon I stop at the Starbucks. I’ve walked two miles and with a killer headache, I might add. I deserve/need a nice caffeinated beverage. I grab my drink and look around. A well dressed slender man prances in. He orders a ssssmall ice coffee. I start thinking, “Oh yes, I’m in the short north. I remember his type. I remember my fabulous neighbors and their fabulous boyfriends” Again the Lord starts calling me out. “So what do you think brought him to this place in this life? Is he hurting? Do I love him any less than I love you?” “No Lord. Maybe more. I think you’d leave me, just to chase after him.” “So pray for my lost lamb.”
I always have a lot to think about after my afternoon walks. I think the Lord requires action from me too. Not only prayer. But for now, it’s prayer. Judgment comes so easily for me, maybe it does for everyone. Life seems to require judgment calls, so the only antidote I find to BEING judgmental seems to be prayer and keeping my nose to the grindstone. So, here is the meanderings thoughts of a lunch walker. Take something with you or leave it here. It’s up to you.