Even at 10 am this late June morning, the air is hot and heavy with moisture. Today’s expected high is 106 degrees. Fortunately, I sit in the park, surrounded by huge, leafy green canopies. The cottonwoods, oak, and sycamores provide some protection and relief from the sun’s rays.
All around me I hear Spring’s mating calls: the cardinals sing, hoping to attract a mate. Cicadas' harsh calls sound from my left, then the answering calls echo to my right. I sit on a bench under the shade of a wooden gazebo, soaking in the calm atmosphere.
My mind drifts. Instead of enjoying the beauty and quiet of Lemon Park in Pratt, Kansas, my mind drifts back a few days. I’m in downtown Wichita, on a Sunday evening in 100 degree heat. Here, too, I’m seeking shade, but for a different reason.
With six gentlemen friends, I seek shade not for myself, but for others. We’re on a quest, seeking the homeless. Surely, on this hot day, they seek relief from the oppressive heat in a shaded spot or grassy, tree-lined park.
My friends and I aren’t disappointed. We find the homeless trying to keep cool in sheltered spots: under the Kellogg overpass, in the shade of a gazebo in Old Town, and in the shadows of the downtown library. We offer our small gifts—a sandwich, a bag of chips, a cookie, a pack of gum, some toiletries, and a bottle of water. They seem such a small gifts. We chat for a few moments with each group. Invariably we are thanked, often with a sincere, “God bless you.”
Then we climb back into our air-conditioned vehicles and search for others who are hot, thirsty, and displaced. The irony of our finding some respite from the heat in an air-conditioned vehicle does not escape me. The 70 or so people appreciate the gifts, but our gesture seems so small, like using a teaspoon to dig the foundation of a house. But we will continue to dig that foundation, providing what we can. One sandwich and one water bottle at a time, we’ll provide small gifts for our brothers. One small gift is better than nothing.
Mark 12:29-31 “The most important [commandment] …is this… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 25:40b “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did your for me.”