This weekend brought about an opportunity to spend time with my two sisters in Chicago and we had a blast. It was a time set apart for one another and, I think they would agree, it was a success. While trying to get to a bus yesterday one of the first things I experienced was a man by the name of Ishmael (translated-God will listen/hear) who was seeking some change. The temperatures were frigid and he said if there wasn't change he would take smiles. His eyes were bright and when I looked into them the experience evoked both sadness and joy. He made me want to smile and take a moment to just be present. We chatted for a bit while I remembered what a friend said a couple of weeks ago about a man she met on the streets. Basically, she said she recognized that his job of begging was so much harder than hers. Yesterday her words opened my heart in a very big way. I did not have any cash. So, asked if he would take prayers and a hug. He accepted both.
These are difficult times. Upon return from Chicago I ran to the store for some items. As I walked in a woman I know greeted me and, throughout our conversation, informed me her husband has been out of full-time employment for nearly a year. In my mind's eye there was this flash of Ishmael and what it was like to be with him yesterday. While shopping I thought of what it might be like to be missing a necessary income in a family. I then thought of some other people I know who are unemployed or underemployed and their struggles. Their is great cruelty in poverty and as economic gaps continue to grow its face becomes more clear. My prayers reach out to those who are struggling to get through these difficult realities. I hope that we-as a living human community-can come together and join Ishmael and others as they seek survival. We need each other in order to share in this moment of time and be assured that indeed, God hears the cry of the poor through the language of our hearts and the action of our hands.