Lessons in compassion on my commute

I was witness to two beautiful exchanges between my fellow City dwellers while sharing a bus ride together recently. They happened to be homeless. But, their kindness and the sheer magnitude of their efforts humbled me to the core.

I am an urban man. I have chosen to live in the centers of both Dallas and Columbus down towns now for over 20 years. Today? I work one mile from my old brick and mortar three story storefront home. I either coerce a ride from my husband, take the free bus or walk to work most mornings. While I love being in the wilderness, I belong on the City streets. It’s where magic, big ideas and progress happens.

So it’s autumn in Ohio. The days are getting shorter. The air is chilly, it’s rainy, variably cloudy with sunshine that makes the “fall color” magic happen. As such, the leaves are beginning to thin, change and blaze all shades of the brilliant but dead spectrum. Another summer dying to be reborn the next year. Memories inscribed and challenges met. Change ever present testing our resilience to redefine annually.

There were two moments however that caused the world to slow around me as I looked on in nothing less than respect and awe. One where a homeless woman asked for a dollar bill in exchange for a rough estimation of change. Then it was a homeless man who answered her call. Without hesitation. The other was when another homeless man asked for a cigarette and different homeless man gave one up without question.

These experiences left me with a profound reflection about compassion. Not Christian “compassion” mind you. Hard core, you are shunned, and invisible, to everyone in your Country compassion. It’s nuts and bolts life at that level. But life it is. As such, there is always beauty when there are people who choose to see you are present. When that happens, that spark in the dark while it’s raining like fuck, there is always hope. There is always love in even the smallest of things from the weakest and smallest and most vulnerable of us. All it takes is a spirit of giving and a little empathy.

In the era where we currently live, there is a great deal to learn from the homeless. Especially as I walk home from Katzinger’s Delicatessen with a bag full of great food while passing by a woman curled up in a sleeping bag in the rain inside a doorway of a church. The idea that we are all one People. This is all our home. Yes, you can have one of my cigarettes. Yes I will share my change with you. She got one of my potato latkes. What she didn’t get was judgement from me. We all deserve to be embraced.

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