A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.
― Carl Sandburg
I walked this morning with my neighbor, Jen, and her baby, Scout. Since I was down a dog today, it was just Clementine and I. So, I pushed the jogger while Jen finished her coffee. As I looked down through the opening at the top of the stroller, I caught a glimpse of Scout’s roly poly leg. Nothing to see but rolls between the top of her sock and the edge of her diaper.
There are few things more delicious than the pudgy rolls of baby arms and legs. These rolls offer me rest, for there are few things better than witnessing the appropriate care and feeding of a baby. To know a child is nourished in body and soul is evidence of love and nurture. I feel relief and deep, deep satisfaction.
Maybe it’s my Enneagram One, I don’t know, but I bear many burdens. I often earn quizzical looks from friends and family as they question if my bleeding heart will withstand the load. I feel responsible. I want to fix. I want to make everything better. This is probably why I am a pastor. And as a pastor when the needs rise beyond my personal pay grade I can feel impotent and careless.
My burdens lessen, however, when I align with like-minded individuals who also carry the load, who also long for homes for the homeless, food for the hungry, nurturing spaces for the children, love for the lonely, safety for the bullied. It is a relief, to find people who know and feel and believe in a better world.
This past week I attended two meetings within my city. As civil dialogue simmered around tables in the areas of bullying prevention in schools and the plight of our homeless, I felt a glimpse of hopeful relief. People conversed with care, seeking and exploring possible solutions. As privilege was examined, I sensed an excited empowerment around the tables.
With our current national climate, I remain tempted toward hopelessness. And yet, curious people are gathering around tables with markers and butcher paper spilling their ideas and questions, seeking answers, seeking relief. This is happening across my town and my state. People know the burdens, they feel them to their bones. People are showing up – it does not matter what positions they hold. They are there, marker in hand, questions at the ready. Some are more vehement than others, but they are present. They are curious.
The care and feeding of our communities cannot be done by paid officials, nor can it be done by clergy and churches, or by well meaning activists. The care and feeding of our communities is done by each and every one of us, seeing one another.
After church on Saturday nights a few of us go out to dinner to download and decompress. We recite names, run numbers, and offer praise and constructive criticism after a job well done.
But the best part of our post-church experience is the short walk to the Winchell’s Donuts on the corner of Fifth and Main. Paula always buys herself two donuts, one for dessert and one for breakfast the next day. Aaron hems and haws, and I refuse because I don’t particularly care for donuts. Weird, I know.
Winchell’s is one of few businesses in town who allow our people experiencing homelessness to come in and rest, out of the cold and elements. And oftentimes as Paula is selecting her donuts, one or two folks accept our offer for a donut and coffee.
I know we are not solving their problems. I know we are filling their bellies with caffeine and sugar. I know it’s possible we may have been played. But I also know that when we look a person in the eye, ask their name, banter about the weather, and ask what they’d like to eat, we SEE them. We see that they exist, that they have a name, and that they belong.
If everyone in my town could SEE the people in their spaces, we would not have a huge problem with homelessness or hunger or white supremacy or hatred or bullying.
For the care and feeding of our communities, children and adults alike, it all begins with our eyes.
May we see one another well.