To Travel by Me
Oh, to travel the world on giant wings.
To see new places and new things.
To travel to the mountain tops and
travel to the ocean shore. . .
There was a second stanza to that poem, but it has been lost to my memory. What is significant to me is that I have remembered this portion of it for decades. I wrote it when I was sixteen and it perfectly sums up my desire to see the world. To wander.
This morning I had the honor to meet a fellow wanderer*.
I got up early this morning, oh-dark-thirty as I like to call it. God speaks clearest at that time or maybe it’s just that I hear better when there isn’t the clutter of other people’s thoughts getting in the way.
I walked out my front door and lingered as the smell of honeysuckle and petunias met me. I didn’t know where I was going, I seldom do. I just walk where I feel compelled to go.
This morning I was lead back to the labyrinth at the Methodist church near where I live. It wasn’t my destination starting out and I was within a few hundred feet of it before it became my destination. I felt compelled to go there even though I had no questions to ask this morning.
Then I saw the man who had been sleeping on the bench and sat with his blanket wrapped around him.
In the past, I would have kept going. After all a homeless man is dangerous. They are all mentally ill and inclined to hurting people. I ignored those teachings and approached anyway. I knew there was a reason why I was there, a reason why he was placed in my path.
I spoke to him, then went to the entrance of the labyrinth. I had a question after all. “What am I supposed to do for this man?” Within seconds I knew I would buy him breakfast. I can’t end world hunger, but I can feed a hungry man a meal.
I finished my meditation and went back to where he was waiting. I say waiting, because he was. He was in tune enough to know I was there to help him, to know our meeting was significant.
I asked him if he’d had breakfast yet, then invited him to meet me at the coffee shop a couple blocks away. I went home to get my purse and some cash then met him as promised.
He is a fellow wanderer. He’s been all over the country and we spent a few hours talking about traveling and the books we’d read. He spent years with the Lakota and he told me things he’d learned during that time.
It was a great conversation. One I would have missed had I allowed the label I’d originally stuck on him to influence my behavior.
I’m having a problem with labels lately. This man is homeless, and for some people that is all his is and all he will ever be. But it isn’t all he is.
I took the time to get to know him and found a smart, self educated man who happens to not fit into the box society thinks he should fit into. The fact that he doesn’t try means he’s smarter than most.
I didn’t want him to go hungry as long as I was able to help him, so I bought him some energy bars knowing our paths would diverge soon. Then I wished him well in his travels and we parted company.
Our paths may never cross again, but mine was brightened in the few hours we spent together. I hope his was, too.
How often do you find yourself afraid of others because of a label stuck on them by society? Start seeing past the label to the person behind it and the world will be a better place.
* I won’t use names from now on, because I believe I have met souls before and have known them by other names. It’s why I have trouble remembering the names they have now.