To the Crying Strangers of New York

*Disclaimer: very stream-of-consciousness-y post, written quickly.

The world has a way of hardening us. It tells us to be strong, strategic, efficient, and sure. And boy am I all of those things. But what about times when we should feel, we should let things get to us, we should slow down?

I had things to do. On my way to work I passed a crying man in the street. Who knows how hard his life had been, what he was struggling with in that moment. I had the urge to ask him if he was okay. But, I walked on.

I fought back tears the entire rest of my commute.

I want to be a person that places kindness over comfort. I want to be in a state of tenderheartedness, in the way that keeps me humble, able to relate to others, able to pray.

There are surely bankers on wall street who feel the same desperation as the homeless man I encountered; sometimes it’s not apparent. I know I’ve looked outwardly perfect but inwardly hope SOMEONE really asks me if I’m okay. And cares if I say “no.” I never want to be desensitized to the suffering of others. Sometimes compassion and empathy can spur me onward and remind me there is more work to be done. Work meaning literal work if you apply to it to a career spent serving others (whatever that means), but also work in a sense of encouraging and uplifting other people. Sometimes it can spur me onward to simply sit with the hard things. I pray God gives me the wisdom to be both upset and uplifting at the same time. I want to live in that divide. The gap between having things figured out or being immune to the “world’s problems” and being a weepy useless mess.

I like to think that allowing myself to feel, to reach out to that man in some way (sending tears on his behalf into the universe) even though I didn’t talk to him as I felt called to do, affected my heart in an important way. Each time you let yourself experience compassion you get a little closer to it.

May we not be hardened. May we not be unaffected. May we, in being weakened by the heavy things, be able to move forward in the face of such things in an honest way. May we fight for dignity, truth and justice every day, even in the smallest of interactions.

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