One Hundred Three: IN TRANSIT

Seeing your true colours isn’t always pretty.

I’ve just caught a bus from Reno to Sacramento, and have a three hour layover here before another bus that’ll get me to Redding. I had planned on visiting a cinema to watch Christopher Robin. Instead, a spur of the moment decision led me to open up my Beanhunter app, find the best coffee in town, and head there for some quiet time.

Google Maps showed me a route to get to Temple Coffee & Tea along the main roads. It was fairly direct, but I could see it wasn’t the quickest way from A to B.

So I set off down the quickest way, of course.

I turned a corner, lifting my head from my phone screen to see sleeping bags, shopping carts, and people littered down the sidewalks on both sides of a potholed road.

I stopped in my tracks. My head spun quickly with fears and imagined scenes of theft, or kidnap, or worse. Hair prickled on the back of my neck as I stood on that corner.

I felt unsafe. Nervous. Afraid, even.

And then I looked at that feeling.

I didn’t fight it, or shove it down. I inspected it, held it up to the light, and wondered why it was inside of me.

I didn’t like what I saw under that spotlight:

Racism. Bigotry. Discrimination. Assumption. Elitism.

My fear of walking amongst these people was rooted in ideas and lies planted there by media. By society. By the fear of other small minded people.

I’m not ignorant; there are definitely some streets that aren’t necessarily ‘safe’ to walk down. I just wasn’t so nervous about this one, anymore. I asked Jesus real quick if it was wiser to turn around and walk the longer route Google had proposed, and I received a swift reminder that he had spent his days walking down streets interacting with all sorts of people – outcasts, mostly – people that the world rejected and overlooked and was afraid of. People that lined the very streets he walked down.

I imagined it was similar to the scene I was facing.

So I walked forward.

And I was met with smile after smile. I looked every person I passed in the eye, and saw friendly twinkles in them all.

“I like your hat!”

“Good afternoon, miss!”

“That’s a pretty dress!”

“Nice stick you’ve got there!”

One of them, Lonny, even asked if he could take a video of me so he wouldn’t forget me. He said he had something he wanted me to remember, and asked if I’d take a video of him, too:

(Posted with his permission)

Who was I to have been scared of these people? And just because they’re homeless? Dirty? Poor?

I’M HOMELESS! I’M DIRTY!

And I may not be as financially strained as some here, but I’m certainly on a tight budget.

I moved out of my Lennox address more than four months ago. I’ve been walking along the PCT for over one hundred days. And apart from a handful of nights spent under the roofs of friends or hostels, I’ve been sleeping under stars each night, just like these folks.

Geez, I probably look like I fit in here more than I do back on those main streets anyway! With my dirty pack, floral dress, unquestionably ragged shoes, big hat and Wilson the walking stick, I reckon these guys thought I was ‘one of them’.

They wouldn’t be wrong.

My only argument is one of semantics: it shouldn’t be a matter of me being a part of ‘their world’ or them being a part of ‘my world’. We’re all one and the same. I’m no better than anyone here because I have more money in my account. They’re no less than I because their belongings are stored in a shopping cart.

The warmth I saw radiating from the smiles of those I passed gave stark contrast to the workings of my own mind just a few minutes previously.

Instead of nerves because of this crowd, I felt welcomed. I felt ashamed.

It’s not a comfortable realisation. Still, I’m thankful I came to it.

These moments, these lessons are a privilege.

How grateful I am to have this time to walk, to learn, to grow. How grateful I am to have already had so much time to walk, to reflect, to be open; where I can see and learn such lessons instead of listening to ingrained fear and turning around to find a ‘safer, easier’ way.

I reckon that street just made me a better person.

I think Jesus does, too:

“Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and yet fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own?”

Matthew 7:3, The Passion Translation

I hope that next time I turn a corner and see sleeping bags, shopping carts, and people littered down the sidewalks on both sides of a potholed road, I won’t skip a beat: I’ll slow down and get ready to meet all the smiles ahead of me with a big one of my own.

5 thoughts on “One Hundred Three: IN TRANSIT

    • Naomi Joy says:

      I love this! It’s something I continue to work on and be intentional with.
      I always feel it such a privilege and honour when people leave comments like this, so thank you!

      Like

  1. Karen says:

    Wow Joy 🤔
    So very thought provoking! And true!
    So true that society & media conditions is to think a certain way – I absolutely would turned & gone the other “safer” road. You continue to amaze, inspire and teach us all valuable lessons every single day.

    Love you & proud of you xxxx

    Like

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