At 6:30 in the morning Central Square has already been awake for hours. Stale pools of water with some left over garbage cover the brick side-walk in a low lying area, a result of heavy rains from last week that have not yet evaporated. Pigeons flock to the water enjoying an unexpected pool, loudly arguing about who splashes first.
My husband arrived back from Turkey last night and we talked late into the night resulting in a worthwhile fogginess. So on this Wednesday my mind is buzzing with both the noble and the mundane.
I arrive downtown and I purposely choose to get out on a different side of the subway. Because today I don’t want to see Valerie and know that she is still homeless. Because today I don’t want Donald asking me for spare change.
I am the Priest and the Levi of the Good Samaritan story – I cross to the other side.
Is it ever okay to cross to the other side? Is it ever okay to purposely choose to avoid the unpleasant? Is it ever okay to ignore disparities?
I don’t think it is, but I do it. I could give all manner of excuses, I could explain myself away, I could tell you that it really doesn’t make a difference. And maybe it doesn’t — but maybe it does.
I cross to the other side because I have no solutions. I cross to the other side because I am tired. I cross to the other side because there is no inn to take people to.
Maybe it’s not about having solutions or an inn. Maybe it’s about just showing up and saying ‘hi’; acknowledging the humanity of another person who struggles. Maybe it’s about early morning solidarity and knowing I share these streets, this neighborhood with the homeless, the crazy, the suits and ties, the little black dress, the vendor, the street musician, the fruit man, the tourist. Maybe it’s about being present among people and proclaiming a faith in the midst of this beautiful, broken world.
But all that comes to me after I cross to the other side.
What do you do when you cross to the other side?