Tag Archives: faith

In Solidarity…Images of Hope and Peace

These are just a few of the photos I took this afternoon at a peaceful rally. It took place on a rather chilly and windy afternoon in the shadow of city hall. It was simply a gathering of peaceful souls to show solidarity and respect and appreciation for not only our current Muslim brothers and sisters that live with us, but also those to come. The speakers represented leaders from all three Abrahamic faiths and other activists as well. They were inspiring and inspired to say the least. A couple of the speakers cited the quotes from the Golden Rule, and this gathering of people was surely a living example of it (to read fourteen quotes of the Golden Rule for multiple religions that use different words to basically say the same thing, click here). But one of the best, if not funniest, quotes I heard…”Donald Trump we denounce you!” Anyhow, even though I didn’t stay for the last part of this event I am really glad to have gone. Really beautiful; really inspiring. Peace. Salaam. Shalom.

Urban Simplicity.

I went to church today, but Jesus was outside.

 “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”~Anne Frank

So first a couple things. The above image is of of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral here in Buffalo. It’s a beautiful and welcoming space. And below is the life-sized Homeless Jesus statue that lies outside the church facing Main Street. The statue was sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz; he also has a Begging Jesus statue outside the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, in NYC. I would walk past it on 31st Street (I think) as I walked to my hotel when I was studying there a couple years ago. What I found interesting about the Begging Jesus statue is that people would leave money in his outstretched hand and no one (that I saw) would take it. The Homeless Jesus statue pictured below is rather controversial (click the above link or google it), and I am really proud that it ended up in my hometown and at St. Paul’s. I have to add that I have no affiliation with St. Paul’s other than they are nice enough to leave there doors open throughout the day and maybe once a month or so I stop by in the midst of a busy day for some quiet time in their beautiful sanctuary. And I’d be remiss if I also didn’t comment on the fact that it is a rarity that a church’s doors are left open other than during formal service/worship time. Thank you St. Paul’s; you have, on certain occasions (such as today) been an oasis for me.

The Homeless Jesus statue arrived in Buffalo last spring, March I think, and that’s around the time the above and below photos were taken. To see it in person really is moving; it’s life-size and at first glance one may think it is a person lying there. But then you notice the scar on his feet. Right from the very beginning people began leaving things for the homeless…articles of clothing, sundries, food. Some people came to pray.

While the above set of photos were taken last spring, the below set were taken today. And now I have to tell you a bit about my day, without getting too personal. But before I do I have to add that I’ve heard recently that more and more people have been leaving things at the staue for the homeless that the church has built a small structure behind it (pictured below) onto which things can be hung. I went there to see that today, but I’m jumping ahead.

Last night I had insomnia. I’ve been prone to it most of my adult life, but last night was bad. Birds were chirping when I finally nodded off. My alarm was set for 5:30am; I ended up calling in “sick” to work today because of lack of sleep. I fell back to sleep and awoke around 11am. Feeling in a grog I went out for coffee. While sitting there, and feeling somewhat bad for abandoning my co-workers on what I know was a very busy day, I thought of St. Paul’s and wondered if it was open as usual (thankfully it was). I simply wanted a place to sit in silence; a holy place.   

It was/is an incredibly beautiful day today. And as I approached the church I came upon the scene below. There were two or three women placing things on the statue and offering them to people as well. As I got off my bike I could hear the one woman say, “Take what you need; that’s why we are leaving it here.” Tears welled up in my eyes. I snapped a few photos. And before leaving (to go around to the front of the church at the sanctuary entrance), I approached the women who where now talking to someone else. I gave them my card and asked if I could post pictures on my blog later. I also asked if they were affiliated with any group or organization. The one women didn’t here me and asked what I had just asked, so I repeated the question. Then she smiled, “No, it’s just us.”

When I went into the sanctuary I was the only one there. It was just what I needed; I sat there for probably a half hour in the chilly stillness. Though I am a Christian it is rare for me to write strictly from a Christian perspective as I feel that the omnipresent consciousness that we call God transcends all religions and is equal to all (and equal to all in non-religions, if that makes any sense). 


And as I sat there in the quietness of this beautiful sanctuary in the heart of a city at lunchtime, I couldn’t help but stare at the altar and the windows behind the altar. Because just beyond those windows–in the rear of the church and facing downtown–was where the statue of the Homeless Jesus lay. Yes, of course I realize that it is only a statue in the same way a church is only a building. But I also believe that material things can be manifestations of the Spirit. If, for example, that statue were not there people would not be bringing things for the homeless; people would not be standing on a city corner and praying. And yes I also realize that people would be caring for the homeless elsewhere, but because of that statue they were caring for them right there; right now, on this beautiful day just a few weeks before the day we celebrate the birth of the light that shines in the darkness. 


As a Christian I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t add that I really am not sure what to think about Jesus. Was he truly the Son of Man? The only begotten son of God? I have a difficulty believing that (literalists, please do not send me hate mail). More so, I believe he was one of a handful of enlightened masters (messengers or teachers) that came to help us learn and grow…how to be fully human. And on this day people were following his example, they were outside doing his work. I think we all can learn from the actions of others. And on this day I learned what it meant to offer selfless service–selfless love–to strangers on the street.


I was sitting in a comfortable pew, but Jesus–or at least the spirit from whence he and we all came–was out on the street, working through common souls like you and I. Even in the midst of the confusing world in which we live today, there is still good. So much good. I just have to look for it sometimes.

And this is what I thought as I sat alone in a pew in a really large and ornate but chilly and incredibly silent sanctuary today.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

~Matthew 25:35

Urban Simplicity

I went to church today, but Jesus was outside.

 “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”~Anne Frank

So first a couple things. The above image is of of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral here in Buffalo. It’s a beautiful and welcoming space. And below is the life-sized Homeless Jesus statue that lies outside the church facing Main Street. The statue was sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz; he also has a Begging Jesus statue outside the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, in NYC. I would walk past it on 31st Street (I think) as I walked to my hotel when I was studying there a couple years ago. What I found interesting about the Begging Jesus statue is that people would leave money in his outstretched hand and no one (that I saw) would take it. The Homeless Jesus statue pictured below is rather controversial (click the above link or google it), and I am really proud that it ended up in my hometown and at St. Paul’s. I have to add that I have no affiliation with St. Paul’s other than they are nice enough to leave their doors open throughout the day, and maybe once a month or so I stop by in the midst of a busy day for some quiet time in their beautiful sanctuary. And I’d be remiss if I also didn’t comment on the fact that it is a rarity that a church’s doors are left open other than during formal service/worship time. Thank you St. Paul’s; you have, on certain occasions (such as today) been an oasis for me.

The Homeless Jesus statue arrived in Buffalo last spring, during the month of March I think, and that’s around the time the photos above and those directly below were taken. To see the statue in person really is moving; it’s life-size and at first glance one may think it is a person lying there. But then you notice the scars on his feet. Right from the very beginning people began leaving things for the homeless…articles of clothing, sundries, food. Some people came to pray.

While the above set of photos were taken last spring, the below set were taken today. And now I have to tell you a bit about my day, without getting too personal. But before I do I have to add that I’ve heard recently that more and more people have been leaving things at the statue for the homeless, and that the church has built a small structure behind it (pictured below) onto which things can be hung. I went there to see that today, but I’m jumping ahead.

Last night I had insomnia. I’ve been prone to it most of my adult life, but last night was bad. Birds were chirping when I finally nodded off. My alarm was set for 5:30am; I ended up calling in “sick” to work today because of lack of sleep. I fell back to sleep and awoke around 11am. Feeling in a grog I went out for coffee. While sitting there, and feeling somewhat bad for abandoning my co-workers on what I know was a very busy day, I thought of St. Paul’s and wondered if it was open as usual (thankfully it was). I simply wanted a place to sit in silence; a holy place.   

It was/is an incredibly beautiful day today. And as I approached the church I came upon the scene below. There were two or three women placing things on the statue and offering them to people as well. As I got off my bike I could hear one woman say, “Take what you need; that’s why we are leaving it here.” Tears welled up in my eyes. I snapped a few photos. And before leaving (to go around to the front of the church at the sanctuary entrance), I approached the women who where now talking to someone else. I gave them my card and asked if I could post pictures on my blog later. I also asked if they were affiliated with any group or organization. The one woman didn’t hear me and asked what I had just asked, so I repeated the question. Then she smiled, “No, it’s just us.”

When I went into the sanctuary I was the only one there. It was just what I needed; I sat there for probably a half hour in the chilly stillness. Though I am a Christian it is rare for me to write strictly from a Christian perspective as I feel that the omnipresent consciousness that we call God transcends all religions and is equal to all (and equal to all in non-religions, if that makes any sense). 

And as I sat there in the quietness of this beautiful sanctuary in the heart of a city at lunchtime, I couldn’t help but stare at the altar and the windows behind the altar. Because just beyond those windows–in the rear of the church and facing downtown–was where the statue of the Homeless Jesus lay. Yes, of course I realize that it is only a statue in the same way a church is only a building. But I also believe that material things can be manifestations of the Spirit. If, for example, that statue were not there people would not be bringing things for the homeless; people would not be standing on a city corner and praying. And yes I also realize that people would be caring for the homeless elsewhere, but because of that statue they were caring for them right there, right now, on this beautiful day just a few weeks before the day we celebrate the birth of the light that shines in the darkness. 

As a Christian I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t add that I really am not sure what to think about Jesus. Was he truly the Son of Man? The only begotten son of God? I have a difficulty believing that (literalists, please do not send me hate mail). More so, I believe he was one of a handful of enlightened masters (messengers or teachers) that came to help us learn and grow…how to be fully human. And on this day people were following his example, they were outside doing his work. I think we all can learn from the actions of others. And on this day I learned what it meant to offer selfless service–selfless love–to strangers on the street.

I was sitting in a comfortable pew, but Jesus–or at least the spirit from whence he and we all came–was out on the street, working through common souls like you and I. Even in the midst of the confusing world in which we live today, there is still good. So much good. I just have to look for it sometimes.

And this is what I thought as I sat alone in a pew in a really large and ornate but chilly and incredibly silent sanctuary today.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
~Matthew 25:35

Urban Simplicity

Peace. Free Stuff.

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding.”

~Nick Lowe

Precarious. That’s the word that came to mind this morning when thinking about the times in which we live. That could also have been a good descriptor of my emotional state as I rode my bike to a coffee shop. Has the world and everyone in it gone insane? There is just so much darkness. So much disconnect. Yesterday’s shootings are just the tip of the iceberg; just one in many destructive things that are happening as I type these very words. And then I came upon the scene pictured above. An apartment on South Elmwood Avenue here in Buffalo with a table out front on the sidewalk. A few odds and ends; nothing of any real value. But rather than throw them in the trash they took the time to set up a table, lay the items out, and make a sign…Peace; Free Stuff. They took the time to offer this stuff to someone who may need it. It brought a smile to my face then just as it does now. And it made me remember that there is still good.

With all the recent events I will be honest and say that I feel somewhat helpless. How can I possibly make a difference in this world. A difference in anything. And then I saw this and it made me remember. It made me remember that goodness can happen in really small steps. The words of a local and inspiring retired clergyman, the Reverend Phil Smith, came to mind (and I’m paraphrasing)…”America is really good at waging war, the best in the world in fact, but what we really need is to wage peace.”

Our society is seriously broken. And by “our” I don’t just mean American. We really need to do something, but what? What can we as individuals do to make a difference? What came to me was that we as individuals do need to wage peace at a personal level. Simply being nice to people in your own little world, regardless of their gender, skin color, or religion. Help people whenever you can. Maybe it can have a ripple effect.

I really do worry about the next generation, my son’s generation. And his children’s generation after him. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am waiting for the next MLK or Gandhi to appear to inspire us into a revolution, to change things and turn us around to face things differently…to wake us up. Though I’m not sure we’d recognize the next prophet if they did appear on the scene…we don’t have enough space for them. But I also think how it can be us. It can be us to make small changes each day to make ourselves as a society that much more…well, societal.

If we did this maybe it would stop that one person from doing something terrible. Maybe it would stop that one single person and make them think that they shouldn’t do the terrible act they had in mind. Maybe it would soften their heart enough to see the consequences. Maybe it would make them realize that they are loved and they themselves can in fact be love. And if our kindness changed even one single person that would be enough. But then maybe it would have a ripple effect.

We, as collective consciousness, really need to look within. It’s not us against them, or vice versa. It’s just us, the people of planet earth. We really need to do this if we want to survive.

And this is what I was thinking when my heart was warmed when I saw a little table of things out that were offered free for the taking as I was riding my bike to a coffee shop on a grey and chilly December morning.

This is my commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you.

John 15:12

Urban Simplicity

Peace. Free Stuff.

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding.”
~Nick Lowe

Precarious. That’s the word that came to mind this morning when thinking about the times in which we live. That could also have been a good descriptor of my emotional state as I rode my bike to a coffee shop. Has the world and everyone in it gone insane? There is just so much darkness. So much disconnect. Yesterday’s shootings are just the tip of the iceberg; just one in many destructive things that are happening as I type these very words. And then I came upon the scene pictured above. An apartment on South Elmwood Avenue here in Buffalo with a table out front on the sidewalk. A few odds and ends; nothing of any real value. But rather than throw them in the trash they took the time to set up a table, lay the items out, and make a sign…Peace; Free Stuff. They took the time to offer this stuff to someone who may need it. It brought a smile to my face then just as it does now. And it made me remember that there is still good.

With all the recent events I will be honest and say that I feel somewhat helpless. How can I possibly make a difference in this world. A difference in anything. And then I saw this and it made me remember. It made me remember that goodness can happen in really small steps. The words of a local and inspiring retired clergyman, the Reverend Phil Smith, came to mind (and I’m paraphrasing)…”America is really good at waging war, the best in the world in fact, but what we really need is to wage peace.”

Our society is seriously broken. And by “our” I don’t just mean American. We really need to do something, but what? What can we as individuals do to make a difference? What came to me was that we as individuals do need to wage peace at a personal level. Simply being nice to people in your own little world, regardless of their gender, skin color, or religion. Help people whenever you can. Maybe it can have a ripple effect.

I really do worry about the next generation, my son’s generation. And his children’s generation after him. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am waiting for the next MLK or Gandhi to appear to inspire us into a revolution, to change things and turn us around to face things differently…to wake us up. Though I’m not sure we’d recognize the next prophet if they did appear on the scene…we don’t have enough space for them. But I also think how it can be us. It can be us to make small changes each day to make ourselves as a society that much more…well, societal.

If we did this maybe it would stop that one person from doing something terrible. Maybe it would stop that one single person and make them think that they shouldn’t do the terrible act they had in mind. Maybe it would soften their heart enough to see the consequences. Maybe it would make them realize that they are loved and they themselves can in fact be love. And if our kindness changed even one single person that would be enough. But then maybe it would have a ripple effect.

We, as collective consciousness, really need to look within. It’s not us against them, or vice versa. It’s just us, the people of planet earth. We really need to do this if we want to survive.

And this is what I was thinking when my heart was warmed when I saw a little table of things out that were offered free for the taking as I was riding my bike to a coffee shop on a grey and chilly December morning.

This is my commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you.
John 15:12

Urban Simplicity

Fifty years ago today….

The above image is of Jonathan Myrick Daniels (and unknown girl). I had just recently learned of this brave man’s story and was moved to post about it, and it happened exactly 50 years ago today. He was an Episcopal seminarian and on his second march in southern Alabama for Civil Rights. He and other protesters were picketing a week prior and arrested. They were held for a week in a hot, crowded, and primitive jail. When they were released they were provided no transportation back to Selma so they had to walk. The southern Alabama temperature hovered near triple digits and they went to a local store to purchase something refreshing to drink. They were met by a man with a shotgun and gun on his belt and were not allowed to enter because some of the protesters were black. The shooter (I shan’t glorify him by mentioning his name) raised the shotgun at Ruby Sales, who was 17 at the time. Jonathan Myrick pushed Ms. Sales out of the way and took the full blast from the gun himself. He died on the spot. The shooter went on to shoot another protester in the back but thankfully he survived, as did Ruby Sales. She went on to study at the same seminary as Myrick, and started a foundation in his name.  Stories of courage such as this are what move my soul. And inspire me. And renews my faith in humanity. This…this is what should be in the news about Christians in action. I can only imagine what good this man could have continued to do if not for his life being cut so tragically short. Rest in peace, brave Jonathan.

To read more about Jonathan Myrick Daniels, click here and here.
To visit the website of the foundation that was founded by Ruby Sales, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels
Jonathan Myrick Daniels

Mad at the Universe


The person of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a person of faith.”
~Thomas Merton

I’ve been in small group meetings where as an introduction or an ice-breaker we would go around the circle and say what the weather was like in our world, metaphorically… “slightly cloudy with a bit of sun,” someone might say. Or, “sort of stormy.” Well the weather that is happening in the real world outside my doors as I type these words is fitting for me today… unseasonably cold, gray, and almost constant rain. It has been raining all day. Today, you see, I woke up mad at the Universe. Pissed off is more like it. And by Universe I mean God (or whatever name you choose to call It). This has happened before, but not in quite a while. Though I’m jumping ahead as I often do.

A child died yesterday. A toddler. He was three years young. And his sister is critically injured; she’s five. Both of them right in front of their mother. The day was unlike today; it was warm and sunny. The young family was walking in a park when a car traveling more than 50 mph jumped a short grassy median and mowed them down. It was lunchtime on a sunny Saturday afternoon in a beautiful city park. How could this possibly happen? How can this even be real?

As of right now no one is saying why the driver did this, but apparently impairment is being ruled out. Some speculate he was texting. It was a young male, and witnesses say he could be seen kneeling and weeping beside the stopped car before police took him away.

This happened in a crowded city park in broad daylight. Walking also close by at the time (but separately) was an emergency room doctor and a nurse. They both rushed to the family’s aid but they could not revive the child. The doctor said that she probably only worked on the toddler for a few minutes before other help arrived but she lost track of time; she couldn’t really tell how long it had been because time had stopped.

Time had stopped.

A witness described seeing the children rolling out from under the moving car and then hearing the mother’s scream. A scream she will never forget. She (the witness) fell to the ground herself.

How could this have possibly happened? This happened yesterday, and that is the question I asked when I woke this morning, and it is the question I ask now. And it’s a question I didn’t arbitrarily ask myself aloud (as I sometimes do), this is something I asked God. Aloud. What kind of God are you that would allow this to happen?

Now I certainly do not believe our higher power to be an old man sitting on a cloud watching over us, but more of a presence. We—I truly believe—live in It and It is in us. It is all there is. But of course I really don’t know because it is incomprehensible; the minute I try to put it into words or thoughts it seems and sounds trite. But I also believe It (God, for the sake of terminology) is all good. And if this is true then how can such a horrific event take place.

I of course do not think that a giant ghostly hand should have come down from the sky and swooped the children out of harms way like superman. But why did it have to happen that the lives of this family and the driver of that car had to converge at that very second. The mother told the media that she had stopped for a moment to let her children change places as they walked. Why couldn’t they have stopped ten feet sooner. Or why couldn’t one of her sweet children have seen a butterfly or a cat or a bird or something else and ran after it. And if the driver was texting, why at that very minute. Why didn’t he get stopped at a traffic signal for just a few seconds longer. Why didn’t one of them get delayed by just a few seconds to throw this convergence off kilter. Why did all this happen at that very second in time. What are the mathematical odds of these four lives coming together in that very spot in that very second in time? These are the questions that I asked God today. I’m still waiting for a response.

Earlier today while doing a few basic yogic asanas and other stretches to relive pain from my lower back I listened to Ram Dass. The way he chanted Hare Krishna made me think that’s what it must of sounded like when the old testament prophets and psalmists would chant and call out to Yahweh; cry out to God. And that’s what I found myself doing as I sat for meditation unable to concentrate, albiet in a more modern and undignified way; almost accusatory…“What the fuck kind of God are you that would allow this to happen,” I questioned aloud. Still no response.

And now on Facebook and elsewhere it has turned into an internet argument. People on one side calling to remove or alter the stretch of highway that runs so close to a popular park, and on the other some are concerned about traffic flow. Meanwhile this mother’s toddler son lies in a morgue and her young daughter is in a hospital bed.

Without going into too much detail I’ll say that I have heard God speak before. And by this I don’t mean a voice in my head, but through people and things and experiences. But right now He/She/It is silent. Maybe I need to open myself/my heart up to Her. But right now I cannot. I am just so pissed at Him.

I mourn not just for the family but also the family’s family. I also mourn for the driver of the car and his family. All of their lives are forever changed. And also I mourn for us as a society, where such a tragic loss can be turned into an internet argument. But mostly I mourn for the poor mother, I literally cannot fathom what she is going through.

And for me, right now, I am still waiting for answers. 

“Speak, for your servant is listening.
~ 1 Samuel 3:10 

Urban Simplicity.

And then this happened (and how it could have been so much worse, and why I am so grateful, and how I needed to slow down).

I didn’t know it was happening until it was in fact happening. I didn’t see it coming. It was the searing pain that alerted me. And by the time I realized what was going on I was involuntarily emitting a guttural sound of which I didn’t know I was capable, or as my son later said (who was in the next room at the time) a “blood curdling scream.” I had been squatting down rotating loaves of bread in a lower oven when a five gallon pot of chicken stock on an adjacent stove—which someone had set on the edge—fell, covering much of my left leg. But I’m jumping ahead.

Kitchens, like many occupations, can be dangerous places. They are full of hot surfaces, large pots of boiling liquids, and really big razor sharp knives…and often staffed with over-worked, under-paid, and sometimes inexperienced people rushing around trying to complete their tasks. The first time I took stitches I was a mere sixteen-years-old and working in a diner. I was cleaning a meat slicer unsupervised. Then in my mid-twenties, while working in New Orleans and frantically prepping for Sunday brunch, I sliced the tip of my finger off in one fell swoop. Thankfully it was able to be sewn back on and for the most part has recovered. But it was nothing like this. Because while this was initially excruciatingly painful, this could have also been much worse than it is. This could have been truly debilitating, if not even life threatening.

The incident only lasted a few seconds, but when everything settled the entire room steamed with hot broth and I—or at least the lower portion of me—and the surrounding area were covered in steaming bones, fat, vegetable scraps, and of course the viscous liquid. I landed on my butt, sort of sprawled, and my kitchen clogs lay across the room. I’m not sure but I think I may have kicked them off in desperation.

Co-workers, of course, came running. Everyone was bringing me ice. Before I even stood up I lifted my pant legs, which were stuck to me. My left calf was the worst, but I didn’t think it was that bad; maybe it was denial. Everything was red…bright, bright red. Like a bad sunburn. And there were a few silver dollar-sized places where the skin was just simply gone. After changing my pants, and refusing rides from people (as I didn’t think it was as bad as it was), I actually rode my bike to the ER—with my pant legs rolled up to my thighs—as Buffalo General is only three city blocks away.

As I sat in the ER waiting to be seen (and they didn’t take long as they knew I was in pain) I took inventory of my body. My left calf took the brunt of it, and it was white hot and actually quivering while I sat. There were a few other “dots” of burns on my other leg and foot, but nothing like my left. Keep in mind that at this point I was still thinking it wouldn’t be that bad…maybe some medication and some creams, I thought. But what I didn’t know was that serious burns are progressive, meaning they can keep progressing for up to 48 hours after the actual burn. And mine did. At least on my left calf.

By the time I was seen my skin was fully blistered. I was cleaned, bandaged, medicated, prescribed, and sent home. Two days later my left leg looked like something out of an apocalypse zombie movie. So I paid a visit to the ER at ECMC which is known for their burn clinic. After the doctor cleaned the wound(s)–i.e. removed the dead skin—I was horrified when I looked at it…large areas of my calf simply looked like raw meat with the skin removed. But alas, that was a week ago and I am improving.

So why am I telling this tale, you may wonder? Am I looking for sympathy? No, absolutely not. The outpouring of offerings has been so incredibly moving. So many people have offered me help and in so many ways, but I have been able to get around pretty well even when it was really bad. And in the same way that I feel uncomfortable with compliments, so is true when people sympathize with me (though I am so moved to tears—literally—by the amount of people who have offered to help. And not only did I accept rides from people I actually asked for them, too). So why, then? Why, am I writing this? Well, in a short sentence…because I am grateful.  

Because while it was a truly horrific experience, and yes it hurt immensely, I am also fully aware of how bad it could have been. And oddly I was aware of this at the very first moment, as I sat stunned in a puddle of steaming bones and chicken viscera. Much of the skin from my left calf was wiped away. So what? I am still fine. If it would have hit my face or neck—which were unprotected—I would not be typing these words right now. And while sitting in the waiting room of the burn clinic and seeing some poor souls brought in on gurneys…well, I don’t even need to say anything on that. I am just so grateful it wasn’t worse.

And while I am not the type of person that abides that “all things happen for a reason,” I do believe that in most things there is a lesson to learn. And the lesson I have learned here is that I need to remain centered. That in all of the hustle and bustle of life it may be the journey itself that is most important. 

So now as I sit in a cool low-lit bar eight days after the accident with my leg elevated on a bar stool and self-medicating with pints of beer, I am thankful not only of the relative low severity of my wounds but also of this insight. Would I be feeling grateful like this if the boiling liquid hit my face or neck and washing away my skin? Doubtful. I can’t even imagine. But it didn’t happen that way. And for that I am grateful and truly thankful. I have in fact thanked our Creator more times that I can say (and in a way am thanking Her/Him/It right now with these words). But I am truly thankful. It could have been so much worse. It’s the journey that really matters, the little things that I take for granted every day. Those are the things that matter. Because they are all part of the journey.

Four faces, how a fifth one restores my faith in humanity, and a prophetic dream, too…

Image Credit

This post is another in an accidental series on the homeless I’ve been encountering in Buffalo (click here or here to read previous posts). I had written about this briefly on my Facebook page last night, but here’s the rest of the story. 

I had gone out for a long walk (4 miles), which I interspersed with beers (hey I get thirsty). And I was almost home. I just turned the corner onto Allen Street (which is the street adjacent to mine), had the Velvet Underground blasting in my headphones, when I stumbled upon—nearly tripped over—a women and three children sitting in a doorway. She was sitting in the doorway with her legs out on the sidewalk and two of her children—an infant and a toddler—where sleeping in her lap, while a boy of maybe 5 or 6 stood at her side. So surprised at this scene I walked past them for maybe 10 feet but I couldn’t keep going. I turned around. And what struck me was the look in the boy’s face; his eyes…they broke my heart. I went back and asked her if everything was ok. She wore African attire and had a thick accent but said everything was ok. I asked her if she had someplace to go or a place to sleep with her children, she shook her head no. In my head I panicked a little. What should I do, I wondered…there has to be an agency to contact. My first impulse was to just give her money, but then I remembered I only had a couple dollars left in my wallet. I couldn’t just walk away. But just as I was thinking this I heard a car door close. A women pulled over when she saw this same scene. She asked similar questions as I, then said with a certain authority (and urgency), as she reached to help the woman up with her children, “Tomorrow we will find you someplace to go. Tonight you are staying at my house where I have an extra bed for you and your kids, a shower if you’d like, and plenty of food.” They all got in her car and drove away. With all the incredibly bad news that the media presents to us (which they thrive on), instances like this truly restore my faith in humanity. This was such a beautiful sight to witness, but I really hope and pray that the family does find it’s way to comfort and safety.

Then, last night I must have been thinking of this when I lay down to bed because I had a night full of really crazy dreams. But in the one dream I dreamt that I was in fact homeless and asking people for money. And at one point in the dream I was in a large room and there was cash all over the floor but I couldn’t have any…there was a person with a vacuum vacuuming it all up. But then out of nowhere a women appeared, the same woman I witnessed help the family in the above story. She smiled at me, bent down and picked up an armful of money and handed it to me. She then turned to leave, and as she did I could see that she had wings on her back, angels wings. Am I crazy (likely a bit, yes) or did I witness an angel in our midst? I’ll let you do your own analyzing. 

Four faces, how a fifth one restores my faith in humanity, and a prophetic dream, too…

Image Credit 

This post is another in an accidental series on the homeless I’ve been encountering in Buffalo (click here or here to read previous posts). I had written about this briefly on my Facebook page last night, but here’s the rest of the story. 

I had gone out for a long walk (4 miles), which I interspersed with beers (hey I get thirsty). And I was almost home. I just turned the corner onto Allen Street (which is the street adjacent to mine), had the Velvet Underground blasting in my headphones, when I stumbled upon—nearly tripped over—a women and three children sitting in a doorway. She was sitting in the doorway with her legs out on the sidewalk and two of her children—an infant and a toddler—where sleeping in her lap, while a boy of maybe 5 or 6 stood at her side. So surprised at this scene I walked past them for maybe 10 feet but I couldn’t keep going. I turned around. And what struck me was the look in the boy’s face; his eyes…they broke my heart. I went back and asked her if everything was ok. She wore African attire and had a thick accent but said everything was ok. I asked her if she had someplace to go or a place to sleep with her children, she shook her head no. In my head I panicked a little. What should I do, I wondered…there has to be an agency to contact. My first impulse was to just give her money, but then I remembered I only had a couple dollars left in my wallet. I couldn’t just walk away. But just as I was thinking this I heard a car door close. A women pulled over when she saw this same scene. She asked similar questions as I, then said with a certain authority (and urgency), as she reached to help the woman up with her children, “Tomorrow we will find you someplace to go. Tonight you are staying at my house where I have an extra bed for you and your kids, a shower if you’d like, and plenty of food.” They all got in her car and drove away. With all the incredibly bad news that the media presents to us (which they thrive on), instances like this truly restore my faith in humanity. This was such a beautiful sight to witness, but I really hope and pray that the family does find it’s way to comfort and safety. 

Then, last night I must have been thinking of this when I lay down to bed because I had a night full of really crazy dreams. But in the one dream I dreamt that I was in fact homeless and asking people for money. And at one point in the dream I was in a large room and there was cash all over the floor but I couldn’t have any…there was a person with a vacuum vacuuming it all up. But then out of nowhere a women appeared, the same woman I witnessed help the family in the above story. She smiled at me, bent down and picked up an armful of money and handed it to me. She then turned to leave, and as she did I could see that she had wings on her back, angels wings. Am I crazy (likely a bit, yes) or did I witness an angel in our midst? I’ll let you do your own analyzing

Another face, another very real story…

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:35-36

This post is a continuation of one I wrote nearly a month ago regarding the homeless in our city (click here to read it). In that post I mentioned witnessing a women being verbally abused while asking a group of young party goers for some spare change, and also of a man I spoke with who asked me for money on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He told me that he worked full-time (for minimum wage) but still had to beg on the street to support himself. The image above is of Sarah. I met her today while out on my bike. When I saw her sign it was as if my bike stopped itself. After giving her some cash she seemed a bit apprehensive when I asked her if I could take her photo. I told her that I have a blog, work as a chef, and am also an interfaith minister…she then looked at me like I was a bit crazy (and rightly so). Anyhow, we both relaxed and we had a nice but brief chat, this is her story. She’s a single mom just as the sign reads. She and her daughter are currently squatting in an undisclosed vacant house with a few other people. They eat mainly at food pantries and with money she earns on the street. She became homeless after her father–in an alcoholic rage–through her and his grand daughter out in the middle of the night. She has had difficulty getting/holding a job because she suffers from crohn’s disease and is concerned about her daughter’s safety. I have always been moved by seeing people on the street. And as a person of faith I literally cannot help but respond. But in my own personal view I am not doing enough. While I believe that all faiths speak the same truth, I call myself a Christian. And to me, being a Christian is not just about going to church on Sunday mornings, it is a call to action. If I truly were to live out the gospel I would have emptied my wallet to Sarah (OK, I nearly did…but trust me it wasn’t much; I rarely have more than a few dollars on me), or I would have helped in other ways. Tonight when I lay my head on my pillow in my own home with a full belly Sarah and her daughter will be in an abandoned home somewhere. And yes, I am fully aware that she and others I have spoken with and given cash to may be making this all up, that they may in fact be asking for money to support a drug or alcohol habit. But then again, maybe they are not. And if they are not I can’t he;p but wonder how I couldn’t be doing more. Because seriously, as you read this, think about it…what if their stories are true. I’ll get off my little soapbox now, but not before I ask you to watch the below video (it’s only a little over a minute long).

Urban Simplicity.

Another face, another very real story…

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Matthew 25:35-36

This post is a continuation of one I wrote nearly a month ago regarding the homeless in our city (click here to read it). In that post I mentioned witnessing a women being verbally abused while asking a group of young party goers for some spare change, and also of a man I spoke with who asked me for money on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He told me that he worked full-time (for minimum wage) but still had to beg on the street to support himself. The image above is of Sarah. I met her today while out on my bike. When I saw her sign it was as if my bike stopped itself. After giving her some cash she seemed a bit apprehensive when I asked her if I could take her photo. I told her that I have a blog, work as a chef, and am also an interfaith minister…she then looked at me like I was a bit crazy (and rightly so). Anyhow, we both relaxed and we had a nice but brief chat, this is her story. She’s a single mom just as the sign reads. She and her daughter are currently squatting in an undisclosed vacant house with a few other people. They eat mainly at food pantries and with money she earns on the street. She became homeless after her father–in an alcoholic rage–threw her and his grand daughter out in the middle of the night. She has had difficulty getting/holding a job because she suffers from crohn’s disease and is concerned about her daughter’s safety. I have always been moved by seeing people on the street. And as a person of faith I literally cannot help but respond. But in my own personal view I am not doing enough. While I believe that all faiths speak the same truth, I call myself a Christian. And to me, being a Christian is not just about going to church on Sunday mornings, it is a call to action. If I truly were to live out the gospel I would have emptied my wallet to Sarah (OK, I nearly did…but trust me it wasn’t much; I rarely have more than a few dollars on me), or I would have helped in other ways. Tonight when I lay my head on my pillow in my own home with a full belly Sarah and her daughter will be in an abandoned home somewhere. And yes, I am fully aware that she and others I have spoken with and given cash to may be making this all up, that they may in fact be asking for money to support a drug or alcohol habit. But then again, maybe they are not. And if they are not I can’t help but wonder how I couldn’t be doing more. Because seriously, as you read this, think about it…what if their stories are true. I’ll get off my little soapbox now, but not before I ask you to watch the below video (it’s only a little over a minute long).

Urban Simplicity.