Be a pebble around stagnant water.

Myth: Talking to homeless people or people holding a sign panhandling is scary and dangerous.
All they want is money. They are rude. Ungrateful.

Truth: While there are outliers in life where the WORST POSSIBLE THING you imagine COULD happen: getting struck by lightning, your plane crashing, or the movie Jaws playing out in real life (and you're not the shark..)
MOST encounters with someone that is homeless is actually quite normal, and they respond how you probably would if roles were reversed.

This morning on my commute into the city, I saw a woman sitting on a very busy corner. One of the epicenters of Manhattan, NY: Greely Square. Right next to the iconic Miracle on 34th st, Macy's, and in the shadow of the grandeur that is the Empire State Building. What feels like half of the city's 9 million people rushing by, heads down, most with headphones in, focused on what the day has in store ahead of them... but then there is this lady.

Not moving. Stagnant you may say. Stagnant in a way that happens when you see a river rushing by, mighty rapids, but then off to the edge is this swirling bunch of water that just looks strangely stuck. Out of place. LIke, how does it get there? How does it stay there? The current directly next to it keeps going, how does it not get caught up in the rush of forward momentum?

It doesn't make sense... but there it stays.

She was sitting on an old milk crate. Not comfortable. A makeshift sign, with words written on a well-worn old box fragment, using a borrowed black sharpie that told a story of abuse, failure, and now despair.

Swirling. Day after day. Stuck.

"Excuse me"

She looks up from the half-completed crossword puzzle she was working on because, in reality, it's WAYYYY too painful to look up as people look down on you every second, minute, hour, and day.

"I don't have anything to give today, but I just wanted to say hi and wish you a wonderful day."

The curiosity of what my words would bring quickly turns into delight in her entire face.Her shoulders relax, she lets out her slightly held breath in a relief that doesn't really make sense because of the simplicity of the action and words, then reply's back:

"Thank you, I really appreciate that. You have a great day too. God bless."

You (and I) never know what it is going to take to unsettle the stagnant water on the edge of a powerful river. Possibly a storm comes in that brings enough rain to disrupt the trajectory of the river path or perhaps a massive tree falls down upstream and while floating by it clears out the stuck spot.

But potentially it doesn't take something as catastrophic or expansive as either of those scenarios...

Maybe, just maybe, a family with a young child are walking by on a trail that parallels the mighty river when out of nowhere the innocent joy of that young child leads them to pick up a rock and throw it into the stagnant place - giving it just the amount ripple that was needed to change the flow of the river, letting loose all the idle water.

Does a simple greeting of hello fix everyone and all of the hurt, pain, abuse, neglect, and failure that they carry around?


But, seeing the relief that came with an untethered greeting of hello to a lonely woman in the middle of millions of people rushing by gives me hope that it COULD be that little pebble that was needed break the chains of injustice and untie the yoke of oppression...

And that my friends make it worth it to keep trying.

Will you join me? It could be as simple as hello and a smile.
Let's start with that and we can grow from there.

Cheers everyone! Have a wonderful day! :)

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Such weights.

As I walk by people this morning, taking in their posture, their pep, looking for eye contact, a hopeful smile, how heavy their breath sigh is coming out, and the confidence or lack there of presented in how walk, all I can do is think about what everyone is carrying around today under the surface.

Who is nervous about their day, maybe things at work have been on a downward decent for months and they are apprehensively approaching the moment they walk in the door get told they are no longer needed or desired.

Maybe the woman sitting next to me at the coffee shop got into a huge, blown out of proportion argument with her boyfriend last night and he said just that one thing he knew would hit her at the core, the single hole in her armor that brings out every insecurity and self-loathing doubt that is in her - and because it didn’t get resolved at 3am, now she’s tired, empty, and dreading what the day will bring.

Possibly the slow driver in front of me, completely oblivious to their surroundings is lost in the lost-ness of what life is going to look like without their dad or mom, or sister, or friend, in their life any more.

Everyone is fighting a hard battle inside of themselves in which they are trying desperately hard to hide, push through, or pray that no one else can see.

So today, I advocate on their behalf, and probably my own as well:

Stop. Take pause. Give grace.

Think through all of the times you just felt like you couldn’t do it today, handle life, see one more person, be asked a single additional question, or felt as though you were going to just die from the inside out.

Someone is right there in that same spot today - and most likely multiple someone’s.

So let’s give them a break. Listen well to how much ugh is in each word coming out of each other’s mouths or if it looks like they walk into the room carrying invisible baggage.

Maybe hold off on that thing you just felt like you needed to say or the honk that should be rendered.

Whether you are boss or the employee, each need the benefit of the doubt.

No one is except.

How can we do this better each day?

Comment below, let us learn together.

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Much love my friends!