Saturday, October 26, 2013

of Bikes and Men

This week I finally started riding my bike to and from school!  To my absolute delight, it has been everything I expected and more.

When I started this past Monday, I smiled just thinking about the work-out I was getting, but then I began to notice the people around me.  When I rode in the car they had been so distant, but now I could see and hear them so clearly.  On Tuesday morning I started paying attention to the rest of the world's activities: mothers loading children into cars, sleepy teenagers waiting for the bus, the impoverished digging through trash cans... I felt like I had been separated from such a struggling yet beautiful world, but I had now been immersed back into it because I was no longer hiding behind a windshield.  While pondering this on my way to school Tuesday morning, I heard a man yell out, "Que Dios le bendiga!" which means, "May God bless you!"  I turned and saw him waving at me from his porch, so I waved back and kept on riding as I returned the greeting.  It made me smile the rest of the way to school and I secretly hoped it wouldn't be the last time we encountered one another.  Thanks be to God, it wasn't!

I saw the man again the following day and the same event unfolded.  The next day another one of the men who had been out on the porch was now standing by the sidewalk.  He greeted me with a great big smile, so I stopped and spoke with the two of them.  As the conversation continued, we discovered that we had met before.  Kyle, the one who had greeted me on Tuesday, was living on the streets a few years ago, so we had crossed paths when I was here in Pomona ministering to the homeless.  Now he and his friend Dan (who was the man standing near the sidewalk on this particular day) live at what I believe is a group home for men who are recovering from an addiction to alcohol.

Almost every morning now, Dan will fling the screen door open as soon as I pass by on my way to school just so he can say hello.  On my way back, of course, he is usually sitting out on the porch or standing near the sidewalk, excited to tell me about his day or offer me some afternoon coffee.  Kyle is not around as much, but when I do see him he usually asks for prayer.  He suffers from gout, but he also told me that his son, who was my same age, was recently murdered and so I have promised to keep the prayers coming.

I had no idea that when I chose to ride my bike I was choosing to enter into a whole new reality.  I have posted a little note on my wall which came from a single bag of tea.  It says, "Your choices will change the world."  I truly believe it, not only for me, but for everyone.  For all of us, each and every one of our choices will change the world.  If not the world across the ocean, then the world which is the neighborhood we live in.  What will your next choice be?  Who will it affect?