the other side

i have  a lot of posts written, but my camera card still isn't reading on my computer! i'll have to check to see if i can get a card reader from a store here (i tragically left mine at home).

just wanted to share a somewhat sobering experience real quick, that happened on the subway yesterday. i wrote about it in my little travel journal immediately after:

after a bunch of transfers, i got settled onto the F-train headed to brett's. immediately after i got in, a skinny man in a blue shirt and jeans came and stood directly in front of me, but perpendicular to my direction (facing the general car). he started talking to all of us in his thick new york accent:
he said that he wasn't one for begging for money. he prefaced his speech with something about how this is new york and people begging for money have corrupted new york as they just buy alcohol with their little money. he said that he doesn't do drugs (and repeated this statement multiple times). "if any of you have any extra food, though, anything, i would be so appreciative. you see, the YMCA doesn't include food. if i can round up $27, that's a full bed & breakfast. but really, any food or anything would be so appreciated." 
he said more than this, but it was all so sudden and unexpected that i can't even remember it all. he held with him a sign that explained his situation and a small paper sack, looking close to empty.

at the end of his plea, a man across from me gave him a small bag of nuts or something, and the petitioner looked so thankful and expressed his gratitude. he then looked over at me and we locked eyes for a second, as i was the only other one rummaging in my bag - - - but i felt like he didn't want to pressure me so he looked away, thanked everyone (though he only got one item), and exited.

please don't tell me that he was probably a schemer or to ignore this because it'll happen all the time (it already has); regardless of my happy, middle-class upbringing, i'm not ignorant. but i just felt that this man was truly sincere. even if he wasn't, how sad to be in a situation have to beg like that...?

as he left, i was sad to realize i did have a small water bottle, and also sad he left before i could offer it up.

so, i gave him what i could: a small but heartfelt prayer to God that if this man's heart and intentions were pure, he'd find what he needs.


the streets of new york are filled with apparent beggars and people who are less fortunate. there are people all over the world who struggle. i've passed many people on the street in similar situations. one yesterday struck me: a girl sat with a sign reading, "homeless, poor, and pregnant, please help". tonight i saw a man in the park struggling with tons of plastic to recycle, just to make some money. so many people struggle and i don't often see this in my home state.  so, if you're religious (or even if you're not), could you maybe stop today, right now - - for about a minute and say a prayer for them? it just might help.


K said...

Now - this is what I have to say to you. Remember my advice about not romanticizing the city? it's hard not to do. It is tough, very tough, to see all of the mess of life crowded into that one place. This is what King Benjamin was talking about - your heart must be open, but you have to be able to say to yourself, "If I had enough resources to give to each of these people, I would." And understand that you can't. You are doing that, actually - but you're going to have to build a little bit of a fence - because you will not be able to feel deeply for every person who breaks your heart. This is why, I think, people see city people as cold or hard.

But city people know that they haven't got enough heart inside of them to give a piece of it to every person who needs it. There just isn't enough. And the Lord does understand this. There are millions of stories in that city. You are one of them. But you can't learn every story, and you can't be responsible for any of them - because they are far more complex than we can imagine, and too costly.

Imagine if you were Christ, responsible for the entire planet, watching the brutality and the suffering and having to let it go its course - because that's the way the thing is set up. Even with infinite resources, God himself cannot take on the responsibility of each story, wresting it into a merciful and satisfying end.

This is why I don't live there, Kw. Why I never would. It's hard enough to chaperon the choir.

K said...

M comes home in three weeks and three days. I readied his room today. We are not allowed to talk about this time frame with him, so we talk about Christmas - as if he is coming home then. I can't believe it. I just had to say it out loud.

kwistin said...

i know, k. that's why i prayed for him. that was the point i was trying to make: that was one thing that i COULD give him, though he will never know. i leave it to God.

i'm super excited for m to come home. like...super excited. i think i will write him right now.

AudyCamp said...

I appreciate reading your sweet thoughts....no you can't help everyone & you're in the toughest city around BUT every once in a while the spirit WILL whisper to you to help out and you will know WHEN it is okay to do so.. Food is smart! I keep extra water bottles/granola bars in my car for times like that-but I never just hand out money.

Good luck-you're awesome.

Julia said...

I think it is good to give to people. I too have been known to give a bag of fresh cherries to a beggar on the subway. A lady was very hungry. In my opinion it isn't our responsibility to judge their honesty (if it isn't too obvious they are lying), Heavenly Father judges the intent of our hearts, not whether we gave to someone who was honest or lying. We use our agency and they use theirs. Give when you can.

PS- Love your hair, I chopped mine off too! Hope NY is as great as I always know it to be.