Sunday, September 21, 2014

Small conversations...great love.

Joel had the honor of speaking at a TEDx  event here yesterday! He spoke about helping to restore dignity in the lives of homeless people in our city. He worked on the speech a tremendous amount, wanting to share his heart and the things he had learned in an honest and authentic way, and he did a fantastic job. It was such a gift to get to be there and see his speech, as well as many other thought provoking talks from other speakers.
But, I tell you what. I think my favorite moment of the day came after the speech was long over, and the cameras were no longer rolling.
 We were at the "afterglow" party and Joel was having a conversation with a lady who had asked him to tell her a bit more about the clinic he works for. She was quite a character, and at one point told what she thought was a funny story about her workplace, in which the punch line had to do with how bad a homeless guy smelled. Yeah, people do the darnedest things! Telling a story about how bad a homeless guy smelled to a guy who had just given a talk about restoring dignity to homeless people! Watching Joel respond to this "funny" story, though, just warmed my heart deeply. Because he didn't try and shame her, or act like her story was ridiculous. He chuckled, but didn't leave it at that. He said, " yeah, it's an issue for sure, although not as prevalent as I once thought. And, surprisingly it's more common in the spring and fall because the weather is sometimes cool, but not cold and they don't want to leave their coats and things laying around to get stolen and so they wear them, even though it's not cold enough to warrant it. So, the smell is worse than in winter when coats are needed or summer when they don't have to keep them around. That's one reason. There are others. If the smell is overwhelming we just step out for a moment and put these little strips of Vicks under our nose and then it's fine." And the lady was like," oh my gosh, I'd never thought about that." And, just like that, a little education was passed along. A little bit more humanizing, and less stereotyping. It was at that moment that I stood in awe, and was my most proud. 
We don't all get a chance to give a big, important speech about what we are passionate about. But we DO all have opportunities all the time in "little" conversations to convey our big ideas. Our heart will come across in the conversations when no one else is looking, or voting, or cheering. It's those unscripted moments that we can choose to speak up in ways that speak life and dignity about those who aren't there to speak for themselves- whether it be our friends, patients, spouses, children, parents, etc....or we could choose to chuckle and move on. 
So, that was my favorite moment. I hope Joel's talk reaches lots of people and opens some hearts. I have no doubt it will. But, even if he totally messed it up, after hearing that conversation I was reminded that, we all, have chances every day to live our passion out, and that was a great encouragement to me. 
So, congratulations to my Joel. What an amazing opportunity that was and you took it and put your all into it. We are all relieved that it's over and that we all get all little more time together, but I know you'll keep spreading the message of restoring dignity. You'll do it in the way you treat your patients, and the way you speak about them. It's not just your beard and hair that make the folks you care for call you "street Jesus". I'm sure they see His love in your eyes, and that's the greatest love there is, after all.