It is an interesting exercise to walk looking.
It was far too cold, and upon leaving the train station immediately Eleah was talking with a mom and daughter: Bobby and Jayla... They were right outside Oglevie, and I did not see them. They gratefully took a couple of sandwiches but did not want to pray.
We walked up Madison Avenue and looked. You come to see the pace of everyone... such a hurry. Where are they all going? Work? Dinner with friends? Back home? They walk so fast, and people avoid eye contact, burrowing into their coats and clutching them tighter. It was far too cold.
After walking just a few more blocks we met Leo. He was sitting on the corner with his cat, so I went and asked how his day was going. He said it was not the best day because the temperature dropped the night before. He prefers to sleep outside because it is safer, and on the Blue Line or the Red Line you never know what is going to happen at night... nothing good, so it is hard to sleep.
He said one night Ghost, his white cat, found him in an alley. It was a few years ago, and they had been together ever since. Leo has been living on the streets for about seven years, he said.
We crouched down to chat with Leo more as he told us about his story... getting in trouble with the law in Florida... when his parents split... feeling unwanted. His story was hard, but his face was so welcoming. He was eager to talk.
We were right on the corner of Dearborn and Madison, so lots of people walk by. Few stop to talk with Leo, but he was sitting there chatting with five suburban kids, just sharing a few words and a couple stories. People stopped and looked, too. Maybe they looked for the first time that day and saw someone that they had never seen before.
I asked, "Leo, can we pray for you?" and then Ruth walked up.
I almost began to cry.
"Oh, you know Ruth, too?!" he said surprised with a smile. A couple of years before, Lindy and I had met Ruth. She cried and told us she loved us. I had been wondering if God would bring Ruth to us that day. It was so beautiful. She stayed only for a moment.
"Can I grab Jen so that she can pray with us, too? She just had surgery on her hand. Let's get her and pray all together."
Leo told us that he, Jen, Ruth, and a few others on the streets made a family: they look after each other because there is not really anyone else who will. They decided to love each other.
We prayed all together, so join me in prayer now as you read: Bobby, Jayla, Leo, Jen, and Ruth.
A line that I have held close to me over the past few months has been Mother Teresa's mantra, "Love begins at home."
Do we love our families?
Do we see those closest to us?
Do we decide to love?