We headed to the park yesterday morning to enjoy the splash pad. We took off early so it would be less crowded and we could enjoy the water before it got too hot. We rounded the corner at the bottom of the hill near the river trail and I noticed the spouts weren't shooting up. Then I saw it. There was a maintenance truck parked near the mechanics that made our treasured spouts spew and a man making repairs to them. I was worried about how disappointed my girls would be so I tried to prepare Jillian as we approached the man to inquire about when the pump would be repaired so the water could be turned on. A couple of hours. A couple of hours..UGH! We had walked the mile or so to the park so I didn't just want to return home. I looked at my babies and signed "the water is broken" and "play at the park". Jillian was sad, but signed play so we headed across the street to the playground.
Then it happened. We came face to face with the least. We live in a smallish community of 20,000 or so and I have never once seen this here so it affected me. There was a man, who was clearly homeless, with his shoes and socks off lying in the grass asleep. The people were passing by him and the park mower was coming pretty close to him too, but he didn't move. He just rested there in the middle of the grass, out in the open of the park, asleep. Seeing this is not an everyday occurrence for me. My heart broke for a million reasons and I couldn't just walk by this man and do nothing for him. I was thinking about what I could do to help him. I desperately wanted to not just pass him by and look the other way ignoring that he likely had needs. So, I pulled my girls over in the wagon and knelt down to them saying a prayer for this man. My babies are very young and surely have no idea what homelessness is or how this man had needs..they simply were playing at the park. I couldn't help though, but think about how this man's needs were much like the needs my babies had before coming home to our family...hunger, loneliness, helplessness.
Still wanting to do something more, I called my husband. I never have my phone at the park. We usually head out the door so fast that I don't grab it, but today I had it. I can't ignore that God had His hand in this. I decided to call the city and tell them of this man's needs. It was ten minutes and a man in uniform showed up. I watched from the swings as I pushed my treasures praying the whole time that I had done the right thing. The uniformed man approached the homeless man with compassion and caring. I saw him wake him gently. Give him a hand to help him up. Talk with him. Pat him on the back and lead him back to the squad car to give him a ride. There was another man, who was dressed in civilian clothes, who met the man at the car. I was wondering if this plain clothed civilian was a community representative or Chaplin that could help connect this man with the help he needed. I pray that it was.
Then, I looked over toward the splash pad to see the spouts shooting high up in the air as they are designed to do (apparently the pump had been going bad for a while because WOW where they shooting with this new one installed) even though the maintenance man had been working only thirty minutes on it. The girls and I packed up in the wagon and headed that way ready to go about our day. As we transitioned to the water, the homeless man, civilian helper, and uniformed officer were loading up into the car. I don't know what happened next as the men drove off together in the squad car, but I know it affected me.
That thirty minute encounter changed my day, rocked my world, and led me to prayer and the study of God's word because there is need everywhere. Real need. Real brokenness. It hurts my heart to see it. I want it to hurt my heart. I want to respond in a way worthy of the one who gave His life for me. I want to teach my babies to respond. I want my babies heart to be filled with compassion and longing to be Jesus to the least of these. I have to do that by living that out in my own life and while I fail epically many times..God is working in me and I pray that He continues to give me His heart so that I may pass it on to my children as I live out my walk beside them.