New York is not for the faint of heart.
I can recall to mind clearly, the thoughts my drama teacher spoke in my graduation send-off (a bit paraphrased since this was 2 years ago and I don’t have the tape currently on me!)
Coming From New York, I understand what is required for someone to thrive there. And of the many students who have come to me with their dreams for the city, I have only recommended three individuals to take it on. It requires a fierceness and tenacity that only few have.
And I remember thinking: how hard can it really be?
As a silver linings person and an idealist, I fantasize over only the good aspects of places, people. Upon arriving, it was a startling, cold truth that met me. Especially when temperatures were no longer easy-breezy-70, but rather a bitter 25.
When the weather turns cold, people turn inward and with that emotional withdraw the care-free summer working girl becomes a hard, callous person, annoyed and frustrated with…just about everything.
Anyhow, I never thought I’d be the girl who’d yell “Seriously, man?” when a cab driver cut me off when I had the obvious right of way, never thought I’d be the one to send dirty, nasty looks to those who are visiting and walking 4 abreast on a sidewalk where you really ought to be walking single file. I never thought I’d be that one.
And yet here I am.
Today, a giant, black SUV defiantly ignored the traffic regulator and brushed right past me as I attempted to cross 29th Street. If the smoke coming from my ears was visible, it definitely would have been cause for onlooker concern. Sitting here in a quiet dorm room 9 hours later, it seems trivial to have deliberately made eye contact with the guy as I passed by him, yet at approximately 1:48 PM today, yowza.
How fitting that tonight I’m reading about Mercy. Being a good samaritan – loving your neighbor. It’s easy enough to say, to promise yourself to do, yet when that guy in the black SUV cuts you off – love begone, bygones will not be bygones, seriously dude?
And 9 hours later and I’m reading Luke 10 and yeeks, it hurts.
Some of the immediate thoughts I had after reading the text were penned as follows:
Cultivate mercy. Your neighbor includes the guy who runs the red. the groups who walk slowly. the people who don’t hold the door open for you when your hands are full.
anger is a choice.
being merciful is too.
Second only to loving the Lord with all your Heart and Soul and Mind (Luke 10:27a), is loving those around you (a longer synonym for “neighbor”) as you love yourself.
NOTE TO SELF: Mercy goes far beyond seeing someone in physical need and wrapping their broken with your feeble. Yes, it is a thousand times over coming to where the man lies, wounded and stopping and to bind up his wounds.
It’s also a heart-state.
It has to go beyond empathizing with someone who is injured, sick, or in an especially dark place.
This week and all the weeks after, may this mindset be something I lean into through my days. Because in this cold callous city, when someone allows you to take your right-of-way, when the girl in front of you waits a second longer to hold the door open for you when your hands are brimming, when the teacher helps you collect fallen papers off the floor: these are the ways you love those people around you as yourself. And when they cut me off. I am called to love them still.