Today, Patti and I took a stroll around San Francisco's Union Square, without much of an agenda except to meet people and practice street photography. We ended up meeting Jay, and his dog, Pepper, on the side of a busy corner where we chatted over some Starbucks about his journey from Southern California to SF. A few blocks later we ran into Ari and his dog, Chico. Ari was a legit fellow - he was friendly, knew his scripture, and had a great smile. We talked for half an hour about how to clean shrimp and the value of generously celebrating the lives of those we love before they pass away.
|Ari and his dog, Chico|
|Jay and his dog, Pepper|
We prayed together before parting ways and Ari was very encouraged and spoke of God's favor resting on some people but not others because they've "been in a bad way", referring in part to himself. But now, he said, he hoped that would change.
The beauty of carving out time in our lives to be spontaneous, or just having the mindfulness to set our own agendas aside for even a moment, is that it shifts the focus away from ourselves. And if we can step outside of ourselves and the walls that we have created (the comfortable house in the hills, shopping malls, holiday getaways, badge-only access to work), then we begin to connect with the needs, the beauty, and the unique stories of others.
It's not unlike hiking, where I often have to remind myself to look up from the roots on the trail in front of me in order to experience the people and places that surround me.
As for these gents and their dogs, we didn't have a plan, we didn't hand out a meal, we didn't solve anyone's problems, but I think that's ok. Their stories are worth hearing, and that alone is reason enough to pause.
And because Macy's was supporting dogs up for adoption through the SPCA, they had this pup on display in their window. Adopt a dog! :)
Note: Out of respect, the individuals' names were changed and permission was asked to post photos online.