A little over a week ago, in the space of about 45 minutes, my foot starting hurting so badly, I went to the emergency room. I’ve had two children and several surgeries and this pain was excruciating. On the way to the hospital, I put out a prayer request on Facebook. I didn’t know what was causing this pain and started to panic. We were scheduled to leave in a week for a family vacation to New York where we walk miles a day. I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and the doctor said it could take about a week or two to heal. They sent me home with pain meds and told me to put weight on it, stretch it, and walk. That seemed crazy since I couldn’t even touch my foot. But, I stayed up late stretching and icing it. All the while, I was worrying about the vacation and what would happen if I couldn’t walk in New York. I had visions of me in a wheelchair and wondered how I could get in the subway and if I would miss some of the outings. I was in Olympic worry mode. By morning, I was almost pain free. After buying some new shoes, the pain decreased. The next day I was completely out of pain. As long as I wore proper shoes, I was able to walk. Thank you God and the prayer warriors!!
I don’t even remember why, but on the plane to NY, I was telling Ryan about a controversial installation of a sculpture called Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmalz. It is life-sized and shows a homeless person sleeping on a bench. You don’t realize it’s Jesus until you see the holes in the man’s feet. I encourage you to check out Schmalz’s site for an image (they are copyrighted) and other inspiring sculpture. www.sculpturebytps.com
Today, we were on our way to Queens and took the wrong train. This is a sort of a Carnes tradition now; last time we ended up in Harlem. As we were navigating the subway, we descended the steps and at the bottom of the staircase, was a man in a wheelchair. He appeared to be homeless and he was quietly saying, “Please someone help me. Anyone.” Over and over. He was a little scary looking and had a large wound on his foot, likely from untreated diabetes. I had taken a cue from my priest, Rev. Beth Fain, to see Jesus on my vacation. Thoughts were swirling in my head: see the face of Christ in everyone; when you have helped the least of these; you have helped me; he is Jesus.
We made a last minute decision earlier in the day to pay for lunch by debit card because we were one dollar short for the tip. Otherwise, we would have spent all our cash at lunch. I pulled out a dollar bill and turned to him and put it in his cup. I asked him his name. His name was Henry and I introduced myself. I always ask people I meet like this their name so that they are not a nameless nobody. I look them in the eyes and I always promise to pray for them. Something about him choked me up and I couldn’t tell him I would pray for him because I was afraid I would break down. We exchanged a few words and as I talked to him, then others started giving him a few dollars. I introduced Henry to Ryan. I turned back to wait for the train. I could hear him begging as I waited with my back to him. Others walked by Henry. I turned back to him and asked, “Henry where are you from?” He said he was from Brooklyn and we chatted about how we were trying to get to Queens and our plans in New York. Others starting helping him again as we talked. He smiled at me and had a gentle spirit about him. Our train came, I thanked him for his navigation advice, and we said goodbye to Henry.
As it became apparent we were on the wrong train (again), we made the best of it and used the time to chat. Ultimately, it took us two hours to get to our destination, but we wondered if meeting Henry was the purpose of our detour. This poem was posted on the wall in front of where I was sitting. You all know by now I’m a big crybaby and I was having a hard time keeping the tears from streaming down my face in front of everyone on the subway.
A week ago, I worried that I might temporarily be in a wheelchair in New York and how that might ruin my vacation. Today, I met someone who spends every day in a wheelchair in New York and likely nowhere to sleep.
This is what I wonder now. How long has it been since someone thanked Henry for anything?