Do you ever pause and look around you at all the swirling motion and buzzing words and vibrant expressions and realize this world is bursting with life?
I live in a small mountain town. Most people come to where I live for retreats and respites from the busyness of daily life. I go to the city. There is something soul invigorating about walking up and down the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. There are business men talking on their bluetooths as they speed walk to their next meeting. There are youths holding clip boards and vying for just a minute of your time. There are homeless people, asking for pennies or dollars or anything that helps. There are young moms in work out clothes pushing baby strollers. There are coworkers enjoying their lunch break together. There are students on field trips and visitors from out of town.
I walk slowly. Up and down this bustling street. I go with wide eyes and open ears and a curious spirit. Who are these people, and why are they here? What is this man dressed like a Tibetan monk handing out and why is that girl yelling into her phone and what made that couple look so happy?
I walk this street on this perfect fall night, coffee in hand, swapping stories with a friend. We sit down at a table and I look right into her face as we laugh and retell memories and discuss struggles. I see her life, and she sees mine. This doesn’t happen nearly as often as I would like it to, or as my soul needs it to.
I get up the next morning with work to do. I walk briskly to the closest Starbucks. I hand money over to a barista. I didn’t look into their face. I couldn’t tell you what color eyes they had, if they were having seemed to be having a good day or not. I don’t even remember what they looked like. A man sits down at my table. I barely glance up when he asks if the chair is free. I am in my own world. Wrapped up in my own life.
There faces all around me. Every day I come into contact with hundreds of humans, all with their own stories, their own sorrows, their own personality, their own inner dialogue. Life is happening around me. Millions of people, walking up and down these streets, inhabiting this world. Breathing the same air that I do.
I slow my pace as I walk out my door onto the street. I see the man with the cat and the bank teller with braces and the husband who could use some grace. I look up into their faces and I smile. I see you, I recognize your spot on this earth, I notice you, and I am choosing to care about your life.