I stepped outside of the Center this afternoon to take a picture of the brilliant red trees in front of the chapel. I’ve driven by these trees for several days and each time I found myself whispering, “Thank you God for the beauty of your creation.” So, it seemed most fitting for me to snap a picture of the trees today – the day in which we’re celebrating Thanksgiving at the Center.
Immediately after taking the picture, a student pointed to a man laying on the ground behind our sign. The two of us together approached the man. Roman (Morehouse College, ’13) gently tapped his shoulder and said, “Hello sir.” The man did not respond. Roman tried again. Again, there was no response. Worried that he was dead, I cautiously touched his forehead to see if he was still warm. He was warm. So, I gently shook his shoulder, and said, “Hey, brother. Wake up! Come on inside the church. I’ll get you something to drink and to eat.” Stirred from his semi-conscious state, he immediately opened his eyes and sat up. Perhaps it was the offering of food, or the promise of a safe place to sit?
I learned his name. Tyson. He said, “No one cares about me.” I offered him food. He rejected it. I invited him inside of the chapel. He declined the invitation. Tyson stumbled away with me saying to his back, “Tyson, I care about you. I care.”
As I walked back into the Center with those brilliant red trees behind me, I realized that those red trees bear witness to the brokenness and the despair of the people who live beyond the walls of this Center and Chapel.