It has been awhile since my friend Mike Johnson gave me a page from his journals. The fault is mine.
Here is another story from Mike's Walking.
If you have missed previous pages from Mike's journaling, you can go back and read them by- scrolling down the left hand column and find - Categories. Then, look for the phrase - Mike Johnson "Walking." Then, click on it and you'll be able to read his previous entries. -bkr-
With each step, the pain in my left knee radiates throughout my entire leg. Over the last few weeks, I have sought to ease the pain by changing shoes, wrapping the knee, taking meds and icing at night. Nothing has worked and today I am really feeling the weariness of my body as a result of the hours of lost sleep my knee has caused. I pray to God, the great physician, to take this pain from me and I hear clearly from him that he already has … on the cross. “Father, why does it still hurt then?” “My son, take up your cross”
The summer has yet to release its grip on the city. The air is moist with the fumes of the countless cars that rush by. The heat radiates from the street and the sidewalk. Under the overpasses, there is no relief from the midday sun, or the stench of filth, urine, and decay and trash. The air is stagnant, hot and humid and the streets seem to stick to me. I have walked this walk maybe a hundred times yet today my walk is more an exaggerated limp than a walk. As I approach my destination, I feel the sweat running down my back, underneath the laden backpack. “What is my cross? What am I to bear for you my father?”
I approach with a wave of a hand as the residents of this few square feet of the city greet me with various forms of “hello.” I have been here many times before, the last just yesterday. I ease my pack off as our conversation turns to the thunderstorms of the previous night, the losing streak of the Baltimore Orioles, and what they had for their last meal and when. I unpack the items I have brought today, a small fuel stove, plastic tarps and parachute chord, various packaged food items, a pan and some fresh steaks. I show them the operation of the stove and we put the steaks on for them to soon enjoy. The tarp comes a day late but there will be other storms and the men are so grateful for so little. We talk as the steaks sizzle in the heat, replacing the stifled stench of this place with the smell of cooking meat.
One man shows me a map of the United States that he found in a trash can. He traces with a dirty finger the various states he has lived in, mostly on the streets. He says he moves from place to place with the seasons, he talks of those he has met on the streets of other cities, of other underpasses and fetid places. He speaks of those who pass him on the street with averted glances, of the hunger that never leaves his belly, or the wounds that never seem to heal. He looks to me with pleading eyes and asks why I visit them, why I keep coming back with items and food. I tell him of my walk in grace and that I am there as a response to my growing understanding of God’s Grace for me. I tell them that I and God love them.
As the steaks near completion, I take my leave and begin my walk back to work, the pain in my knee more intense having stiffened during my short visit. In my head, thoughts of the map of the U.S., those in other cities who sleep on the streets, the hungry, the sick, the needy, the lost, the forgotten and the ignored…and the words of my Father, “take up your cross.” I retrace my steps to my office to finish my work day there. Off in the distance I hear the rumble of thunder and notice the darkening clouds rising in the west. It will rain tonight.
Leadership ConneXtions International