This morning Anthony and I were up and out of the house at 9:30 AM to help the Amped staff take the vans back to the rental place and then get them back to the Gateway offices where their cars were parked. It was a beautiful morning. the sun was shining. the birds were chirping away. the air was cool but not cold. everything was green. greener than it was just the week before.
As we drove in silence enjoying the beauty of the morning, I think I noticed [for the first time] the air that I take for granted; not because the air that I breathe gives me life, but I was aware of the quality of the air that I breathe on a daily basis. It smelled fresh and clean and green. Not sure how airs smells green, but it did. I also noticed the colors that surrounded me. The varying shades of green on the trees seemed alive and the open expanses of grass that separated the buildings blew softly in the cool breeze of the morning.
I've taken this route to the Gateway offices many times in the past year. I've driven this particular street countless times to get to my destination and bring me back home again. But today, after having 'lived' in the inner city of Dallas for the past week, this drive was now different. More accurately, nothing around me had actually changed, except that a few more trees were full of leaves that were bare just the week before. What had changed was Me. My eyes were now seeing my surroundings differently. I hadn't expected it, but it had happened. Five days of living 30 miles from my home had opened my eyes.
I had walked among the people who lived in the 'projects', where front doors are only inches apart from the next door neighbor; homes are one on top of another; the neighborhoods lack color and life. I ministered to children who don't have a front or back yard and live in 'apartments' that have two bedrooms [at the most] and a whole family living within those four walls. I had participated in an afternoon of outreach where we walked the neighborhoods of those we were trying to reach. Broken down homes, the stale air of living amongst businesses and oppression of poverty and abuse consumed these streets. Hopelessness was written all over the faces of the adults, except for a few. Yet even with the oppression that hung like a thick cloud, there was still joy that abounded from the youngest of the kids. They had not yet been beaten down by life. They had not yet understood the boundaries that poverty and darkness had placed on them. They still saw the world through childlike eyes, and I prayed that God will allow them to live in that innocent place for as long as they could.
And this morning as we drove, the word BLESSED filled my heart. I was shown how rich my life is by living something different for five days. I may [or may not] be able to keep what we currently have. Where I live may still change. What I drive may change, too. I do not yet know. But this I do know... on my worst day, I do not live like those I lived among last week. And my heart is indelibly changed.