Monday, October 25, 2010

32 Hours in Boston and Luke 6:30

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Boston for about 32 hours for work related purposes. I had never been to Boston prior to this and honestly wasn't really sure what to expect from this city. In my head I was thinking more akin to New York but was pleasantly surprised to find it much more subdued and ridiculously clean. Now I realize, after the fact, the population is not near that of NY, but I fully expected way more foot traffic and congestion, but I just didn't experience it when walking/traveling in the downtown area.

I was absolutely amazed by the beauty and history dripping from just about every nook and cranny of the city. I felt like it was a living museum as so much of the historical artifacts are simply embedded into the existing DNA of the city, many of them still in use. Walking up to the Old North Church as if it were the 1700's was easy to imagine given the condition of the surroundings and period buildings still in place. I was shocked that most of these churches are still active today and open to the public during the week. Wandering around the flash point locations of the American Revolution unencumbered was a refreshing way to recall our country's history. I kept thinking, shouldn't all this stuff be roped off or something? Maybe middle school trips to Boston would make more sense than Washington D.C. given that so much of D.C. consist of memorials to historical events, not necessarily access or proximity to the events themselves.

While walking a fair amount of the Freedom Trail (a designated path through the city that leads you past most of the major historical locales), I found myself in an a spiritual quandary. As I was enveloped by the city's historical artifacts, my reality was slammed back to spiritual, current day reality as I found myself face to face with "the least of these", or as some would say, panhandlers. Through my deepening understanding of scripture and God's love/plan for those less fortunate, it has been relatively easy to deal with this where I live/work, because quite frankly it's not a frequent occurrence to simply bump into the least of these in my daily traverses.

In the midst of enjoying the beauty of Boston though, I was confronted by Luke 6:30 in a direct and palpable manner, probably 3 or 4 times within an hour time span. Was I supposed to help ALL of these as suggested in Luke without question? I'm pretty sure it doesn't have qualifying criteria or filters like, give to everyone who begs from you that you can determine isn't a scam artist, it simply says give to those who ask of you. I was unprepared for this, I failed miserably and didn't help any of these! I found myself asking, I wonder if they really need this or are they just lazy and don't want to work? Funny thing though, I never stopped to find out so I will never know.

I'm still struggling with this and my inability to take this simple scripture at face value without laying my own filters across it. I don't know if God views my inability to stop and give to these people as disobedience, disappointment, or what exactly. I do know that I believe I'll be more prepared the next time I have the opportunity to be a pedestrian in an urban area, I'll try to remember to have some ones in my pocket, a smile on face, and hopefully the heart to stop and at least acknowledge the least of these created in the image of God.

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