I pull into the parking lot outside the food pantry and turn off my 1990-something GMC Safari. Its 250,000 miles smell hot on a cold December night, and that rhythmic thunking sound it makes reminds me eerily of the coughing sound a dying person makes in the movies. I drop the keys down between the seats and get out.
Walking into where they hand out the food is a good reminder of how prideful I am, because at first the same unbidden thought surfaces: I hope no one I know sees me here and thinks I’ve come for food. Perhaps I think that because Maile and I are not so far removed from being in that place of needing help. Soon we’ll be moving out of my parents’ basement again, into our place (finally), and if I’ve learned anything in the last year it’s that life is anything but certain.
Inside I find Maile, and the friend she brought to get some food has already been served, so we walk back out into the cold and load their food into Maile’s van. In the mean time, I talk to her friend and hear about work and how things are going. Why this current job he has might be slipping away. Why the food stamps didn’t show up this month.
“So, I don’t know,” he says. “I might be looking for work.”
“No worries, man,” I say. “We’ll figure something out.”
I wish my confidence had some basis in reality. But Maile has been doing her best to help this family get back on the right track, and I’m starting to get involved, and other folks at church drop off food at their house later that night and give them rides when they need them.
If you’re not alone, there’s always hope.
* * * * *
Talking to one of my many, many cousins the other week, I found out something I hadn’t known before: she picks up a neighborhood girl after school each week, takes her home, then that night takes her to a local youth shelter where my cousin volunteers. Finally, afterwards, she takes the girl back to her house, where apparently her life is harder than anything I’ve ever known.
“Every week I take her back to her house,” my cousin says with tears in her eyes, “and every week I just wish I could take her home with me.”
It’s sad, but there’s hope, because the girl isn’t alone.
* * * * *
Another friend of mine oversees a running club at a local school. This past Sunday, the girls in her club, all from high risk situations, ran a 5k.
“You should’ve seen them run,” my friend says, her eyes alive. “But especially my girl. She ran it in 24 minutes. She was cruising.”
My friend has a good life with plenty of children and house to more than take up her time. She’s got a career and, along with her husband, owns a business. But once a week she hangs out with these girls. For some of them, she is the only splinter of hope they will encounter.
But she might just be enough.
* * * * *
There is a movement sweeping through our neighborhoods. You’ll rarely hear about it on the local news, because this is good news. This is THE Good News. The Kingdom of the Heavens is among us, and it’s moving, and it’s changing people’s lives. You can either pretend that everyone within a ten-mile radius of your house has their lives together, or you can go out and be their friend. Help them get food. Buy them a coffee. Encourage them to persevere.
Join the revolution. Share the good news.
No. Don’t share the good news. BE the Good News.
* * * * *
The book that Maile and I wrote about our 10,000-mile, cross-country trip, How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, is now available for pre-order HERE.