Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What Will YOU Remember?

The Alamo
A few days ago, the hubby and I returned home from a wonderful five-day sightseeing vacation to San Antonio, Texas.  We had a great experience, but I’m left with some things to ponder.

Leaving the winter temperatures and dreary gray skies of central Pennsylvania, we were hoping for lots of sunshine and warmer days in Texas, and we were not disappointed.  Also, we were looking forward to experiencing a new place and learning some more tidbits of our country’s history.

The River Walk
Using our rental car, we made our way around the area and saw all the sights and sounds on our itinerary:

The Alamo
The San Antonio River Walk  
River Walk Boat Tour
The four other missions along the Missions National Trail and in the Missions National   Park
            A two-day on/off double decker bus tour of San Antonio
            Breckenridge Park
            The Pearl Brewery
            Buckhorn Saloon and Wildlife Museum
            El Mercado (The Marketplace)
            La Villita (Old Town part of San Antonio)
            The 1968 World’s Fair Tower of the Americas
            Dinner at Rudy’s, a Bar-B-Q joint famous with the locals

San Antonio On/off Bus Tour
As we traveled home, I was pondering over all we had seen, heard, and tasted. My thoughts traveled back to other trips I’ve taken in my lifetime, and I sorted through the memories I have from them, too.

It occurred to me that my memories of each trip are frankly quite limited, yet the ones I have are very specific. 

Oh yes, I took plenty of photos and purchased oodles of post cards while on those trips.  I created elaborate scrapbooks of my journeys, which are now….somewhere. 

I bought plenty of souvenirs on those trips, too - things that seemed so “necessary” to have at the time.  All those carefully made purchases are now…somewhere.

I worked hours before each trip, planning and carefully crafting and studying my itineraries.  After those trips, I saved all those travel papers and trip brochures, so sure I’d want to look over them again and again.   But the reality is they are now…somewhere.

I don’t know where all those things are, and if I’m being totally honest, at this stage of my life they don’t matter.  They’re just things.  I have the MEMORIES, and that’s so much better, even though my memories are condensed down to just a few visual images and impressions from each trip.

Some of those trips happened as long as fifty years ago, so it’s no wonder my brain has sifted and sorted and only retained a few recollections from each.

From my first Disney World Trip, I remember the flying ghosts of the Haunted Mansion and that one pesky dwarf of Snow White’s who seemed to be following me everywhere.

From a Bermuda trip, I have pleasant recollections of skootering around the island and visiting a little boutique perfumery en route.

From San Francisco, probably the best fish and chips I’ve ever had there on the wharf and a meal at Tommy’s Place, a quirky little eating joint.

San Diego – riding the glass elevator in the hotel with my brothers

Tijuana, Mexico – bright lights and lots of gaudy colors and clothing

Norway – fjords

Sweden – a meal of crawfish and caviar

Denmark – a large carousel

Alaska – glaciers and bears and Tammy – a beautiful lady trapper

Venice – pigeons and a stinky gondola ride

Australia - digiridoos

I could go on and on.  I’ve been certainly so blessed to have had so many fine traveling experiences.

My point is that of all the things I’ve seen and experienced, my mind has captured and kept just a few limited things from each trip, and that’s enough.

"Homeless Jesus" statue
Thinking about this most recent trip to San Antonio, Texas, I believe that twenty years from now I’ll remember three things:  The Alamo, The River Walk, and the many homeless people I saw everywhere we went.

Yes, I’ve seen homeless folks before in larger cities, but I don’t typically see them in my small hometown.

Frankly, seeing so many obviously hungry, sick, and mentally ill people living on the streets in such wretched conditions wrecked me.  I drifted off to sleep each night with them on my mind.

I’m compelled to give this issue more thought and lots of prayer.  What should be the Christian’s response when actually meeting these people face to face?

Oh for sure, I’ve given money to organizations working to alleviate and heal the people living in homeless conditions.  Yes, I've done that, even though it seems like such a drop in the bucket when I read that we currently have about 2 1/2 MILLION homeless people in our country. 

But it’s different when they are standing six inches in front of you, looking you in the eyes, and begging for help.  You see them, you smell them, you wonder what to do.

Ironically, throughout the week of our vacation in San Antonio, I was reading a book by Mike Yankoski, Under the Overpass.  It is an enlightening account of the six months he purposefully lived as a homeless man – one month in each of six large cities of the United States.  He and a buddy undertook the adventure as a social experiment.  They wanted to study how the Christian community is reacting to the homeless population of America.

This homeless issue is truly messing with me. 

Note to self:  Pray more about this.  What specifically does God want me to do when I am confronted by a homeless person?  How shall I be ready next time I travel to another big city (or anywhere the homeless may be found)?  How can I help without aiding addiction? 

Must.  Pray.  More.

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