Monday, January 31, 2011

The least of these

The darkness was stark - still and very cold.  It was not yet 6 a.m., the thermometer on the porch read 7 degrees, surely boltered by some radiation from the house.  Wind chill was decidedly below zero.  I stepped off the porch and that distinct crunch of frozen snow permeated the quiet stillness of early morning.  A few more steps, a deep breath and a few words of affirmation (to myself), and I was off and running...

Training for a marathon means you run when you need to - not only when the mood strikes you.

Training for a marathon often brings real meaning to the phrase "the loneliness of the long distance runner".

Training for a marathon changes your priorities, forcing you to put other projects on hold and often having to seek extra grace from your spouse and family for your increased absence.

On this particular morning it was cold.  It was dark.  It was lonely.  But, and this is a big but, I went out into the wintery cold voluntarily, was dressed to run, and had a warm home and a hot shower waiting for me upon my return.

As I moved silently along the deserted streets of my community I was stirred by the lyrics that moved to the fore of my conciousness:

He shares a room outside with a dozen other guys
And the only roof he knows is that sometimes starry sky
A tattered sleeping bag on a concrete slab is his bed
And it’s too cold to talk tonight
So I just sit with him instead and think

How did I find myself in a better place
I can’t look down on the frown on the other guy’s face
‘Cause when I stoop down low, look him square in the eye
I get a funny feeling, I just might be dealing
With the face of Christ

(Hear the whole song here: )

While the song paints a specific and vivid picture, in my minds eye I saw the eyes of the single mother in my church trying to be a "good mom" and make ends meet, or the family man in my neighborhood trying to guide his family through a season of employment, or the young man struggling with addiction...  Did I fully grasp that in these eyes was the face of Christ?  Jesus tells us that our response in such situations mirrors our relationship with Him!  Wow.

Heading out into the cold, not because the sometimes starry sky is where I am forced to lay my head, but because I am in a better place, a place that involves the opportunity to train for and run a marathon.   

As a winter storm "of historic preportions" bears down on us my thoughts return to those eyes.  How many of my neighbors already struggle to keep the heat and lights on?  How many are just one bad circumstance from living in the street?  How many are going to be left in the cold and dark as a result of this storm? 

And I'm thinking of my next run...
But that's not all.  I'm also left needing to know how to answer the question "So what?"  What am I going to do about it?

Today's post isn't about providing you the answer to my question.  It is, however, about getting you to ask the question yourself.  I'm on my way to answering it for me.  How about you? 

Press on friends.

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