Lori sat by the side of the road near a busy intersection. Her cardboard sign read, “Homeless. Anything helps.” The intersection was 5 blocks from the Eugene mission. It might have been where she stayed last night, but it was a smart corner to sit at anyway. All the people passing the Mission see the sign, “God loves you.” Perhaps, that sign helps people to remember who they really are. Five blocks later, they have a chance to live it.

I rode up to Lori and asked her how she was. I had baked some homemade bread for my gymnastics boys, but I asked her if she would like some. Homeless people don’t get homemade stuff. They get, if anything, what others don’t want. They get canned corn, canned spinach, or canned beats. No one makes food just for them…like they were special.

I told her that I couldn’t give her all the bread, I had made it for a special ceremony to have with my boys, but I would be happy to give her some. I would be happy to break bread with her. I broke off a quarter of a boule to give to her. The bread was heavy and dense. It took me 7 hours to make and let rise. The wheat was locally grown and milled. Its crust golden brown with slivered almonds and raisins was all organic. As I gave it to her and she did her best to fight back the tears.

I wasn’t someone who just handed her a dollar out a half closed window, I took the time to talk to her, tell her I loved her, and ask her her name. Lori saw that I loved her enough, that I would even take the food out of children’s mouths to give to her. For she too was a child of the universe and worthy of love.

I next met Hank. I was just coming to the gym and was locking up my bike there. Hank was drunk, dirty, and was looking in the windows of the gym. This makes parents of  little kids nervous. I talked to Hank. Hank was in Iraq and in his words, “I am all fucked up. I’m filled with bullet holes”, and he lifted his shirt to show me. “Life sucks!” he said.

I told him how some parents don’t like people looking in the windows. He was offended, he said, “I ain’t like that man!”

I said, “I know you aren’t. You aren’t that guy. You are the guy who went to war and got shot up for others. You are the good guy. You are the guy who did three tours in hell. You are the guy who was out fighting for me and these little kids so that they could come to gym. You just wanted to see what you sacrificed so much of your life for. I know who you are. I see you. You are wonderful.”

Hank started to cry.

I said, “Hank you have made good decisions in the past, when it really matter you did the right thing. Keep doing that. You are a good man.”

Hank replied, “Some people said I should go over to Springfield to a drug treatment center. Maybe I should get on a bus and go there now?”

“Hank, my aim in life is to do the greatest good for the most number of people I can. It is the only way I have found to be happy all the time. One of those people who love others could be you. You have done it in the past. Keep doing it. Just keep doing what you have always done, continue to be kind and do the right thing. If you are seeking to love on others, you too will be loved.” And with that Hank walked away to go get on a bus to get to Springfield.

People often ask me now that I am done with the pilgrimage and I am no longer a pilgrim. What am I doing as a monk? My answer is simple, I try to feed people.

Feeding people is the easiest way to love on someone. By giving someone food you love them in a way that is immediately so personal and so intimate that everyone understands it. In addition, being on the road for an entire year with no or little food at times, no ovens or the ability to cook, it makes me really happy to love on others that know what that feels like to be without. So many people eat crap. Food made without love.

I baked bread for the boys and my fellow coaches. I’ve been at the gym for a month now, and everyone has been so kind and accepting of me. I gathered all the boys from the entire program, we each put a hand on the big loaf of bread that I made for them, and we broke it. We made peace together. We shared love.

Yesterday I took more canned food down to the homeless. I saw a familiar cast of characters. I saw Scott and Top Heavy. I met another man that was having a really bad day. I gave him food, and he asked if I had some water. I had three water bottles on my cart, so I gave him one. Who am I to have three when my brother has none. Some people asked me for money for the bus. I said, “I don’t have any money, but I will put you in my cart and run you wherever you need to go. They laughed. They understood I am there to help, but not enable. I am there to love but not to load the gun.

I met Reno, David, and Cheryl. Together we shared the last of the bread and I gave them some canned goods too. They asked me why am I doing this. My answer is: “I love you. You deserve it. Together let’s make peace on earth here in Eugene.”

I sat down on a park bench and began painting. James came up and asked to watch. We talked for a long while and at the end I gave him the painting. He said, I would like to give you some money so you can continue to feed the homeless, and he did.

More than any other commandment, Jesus said feed the poor. I have a lot of Christians who tell me I need to be saved. Some tell me I am going to hell. But I find that heaven is being the love in your daily actions. Loving everyone all the time is how to manifest “the kingdom of god”. I mean, wouldn’t god hang out where people are being actively loved on? When you seek to be love, you are in heaven. Don’t believe me…try it. Be Kind.

 

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