Pizza and compassion, to go

On this Thanksgiving day, I’m thankful.

pepperoniandveggieIt was a Monday in late September when I was coming from a meeting, and heading to church. This guy named “Tim” was looking for something to eat.

Being very close to a pizza shop on Lark Street in Albany, I asked him to come in and order a slice or two. While we were waiting, Tim told me what a screw-up he had been.

He’s fallen off the sobriety wagon, again, and he’s embarrassed that his brother will be coming to town to go to some rock concert. Tim knows his brother will be disappointed.

I had no words of wisdom. I told him that I thought he was being terribly hard on himself, that he should keep on trying.

As I packed up my pizza slice to go – I WAS already running late by then – Tim gave me a big hug. And I’ll tell you the truth: I wasn’t fond of Tim hugging me with his boozy breath and slightly malodorous self.

But what I remembered from a very different story informed me: Tim needed to hug ME, Tim needed to thank ME.

So, on this Thanksgiving day, I’m thankful. Thankful that I don’t have Tim’s addiction. Thankful that I had the means to buy him dinner. Thankful that I can try to see the situation from Tim’s point of view.

It’s hard for us to be inclusive, to embrace those who are different. We may be OK with gay people or black people, but waiting the extra time it takes for a person in a wheelchair to board the bus may make us cranky. I suspect there are areas we all have that push against our blinders.

May we all be thankful, and ask for greater awareness and compassion for those around us, especially those we might find different or “lesser.”

Also: John Green: On Not Seeing Hamilton

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