Wednesday, March 16

Spring Lunchon in the Park

Daylight Savings Time has come and stolen my chance to arrive at work with the sun and so my walk to work is still in darkness and yet early spring weather has arrived. Along the gulf coast our summer carries oppressive heat and humidity and so in spring we enjoy the outdoors with wildly nervous abandon. Yesterday, under the spell of spring I took my lunch outdoors, and enjoyed my sandwich in front of city hall. On the new benches by the reflection pool and green patches of grass I ate carrot sticks and read a book on my new Color Nook. Two children played tag as I read and a gang of skate boarders rushed by.

I wasn’t the only one taking my lunch in the park, on a bench placed there to honor our former Mayor who, apparently, “loved the city parks.” There were others. Men with knapsacks and trash bags filled with more than just a sandwich, but I suspect, everything they own. No one bothered me. Or talked to me. I don’t think anyone ever even looked at me, and yet I couldn’t help but feel their presence as I sat there and read on my Nook. I felt like a schmuck, sitting there with my Vera Bradley lunch tote and reading the philosophical meanderings of a guy chasing rubber duckys lost at sea by way of a luxury electronic device.

Like most good capitalist I didn’t do anything about this feeling of schmuckiness. I simply read and ate and then walked back to my job in the nearby skyscraper. I sat and ate with people who have nothing and did almost nothing. As I left I offered the man beside me my uneaten apple, which he took with a smile after sniffing it for passions. That made the schmuckiness seem to ooze out of me even more. The act felt wholly inadequate and I felt unwise and unsure and humbled.

I suppose if I were a minister writing a sermon this would be the place where I would insert a story from the bible or a lame antidote about something magical I heard God saying to me that day in the park. If I were a feature story on NPR this would be the opening line to explain the revolutionary way I’ve begun to serve the homeless population. But I’m not a minister and I didn’t receive a divine revelation; this isn’t NPR and I’m certain I won’t be opening a homeless shelter any time soon. I have no bow to tie around yesterday’s lunch. I just offer it, humbly and covered in schmuck to the universe. Maybe God, in time, will tie around this for me, but maybe not.


The Bug said...

This is EXACTLY how I feel so many times. Our church runs a homeless shelter during the cold months & I was there Monday night to take some pictures. I felt like such an intruder - not homeless, nor one of those there to serve them. But I did make a couple of them smile, so I guess that's something.

Single and Sane said...

You did far better than I've done.