“Of all the conferences, events, and gatherings I have ever attended to discuss how to best serve others, when I go downtown to be a part of Nightstrike, the most powerful act I’ve seen.. is the act of remembering someone’s name.”
For me, to know someone’s name, means one needs to engage, listen, ask..
For me, to remember someone’s name, means one has returned and is intentional.
If it is written, that which you have done unto them, you have done unto Me is true, then why wouldn’t we want to remember the name of Jesus anyway?
The other night I returned to Nightstrike after a month off due to travel and rest. I missed it. But do you want to know what I missed most?
John the Tie Collector, James the Karaoke Dreamer, Carl the Bike Repairman, Becky the Mom Painter, and so many others. You know what’s incredible? When you get to know people’s names and take time to listen to them, acknowledge them, value them, and just love on them… they notice when you’re gone.
I wanted to tear up when Carl, who’s been homeless for nearly 25 years told me he hadn’t seen me the past few weeks, but went on to tell me about a meeting he was about to have that may just be the assistance he needs to get off the street.
I sat there listening to friend after friend after friend and thought to myself… I can’t believe I get the honor of knowing their names. I get the honor of seeking them out in the crowd and calling them out by name.
Perhaps the message in all of this is that to be remembered… is to be valued.
For so many of my homeless and marginalized friends under that bridge, they are but an exhibit for the masses to come down every once and while to feed them, walk away, and then pat themselves on the back for a “job” well done. How do I know this? That was me.
My first real taste of spending time with the homeless was at an event the company I was in charge of had been sponsoring each year for seven years. How awesome it was for us to sponsor such an important event.
It wasn’t until the seventh year that I finally bothered to show up. That changed me.
Previously, I had “served” here and there. Just enough to make me feel good about myself as I quickly forgot the faces of those who I’d “served” as I got back into my normal rhythm of life which of course, revolved around me. I sure served alright. Sadly, it was my ego that was served. As in, look at me and the “good” I am doing.
But it was at this event where I met Big Dave and Willie. From that experience and through these men, I began to see the power of knowing one’s name… being trusted to hear one’s story. I began to see beyond myself.
I still carry those names in my heart and to this day. Their names have changed me. They have been used to help shape me. God, lead me to know more names.
With many of my friends down under the bridge, they probably don’t remember the last time they heard someone say their name other than wanting something from them.
“God help me to remember their names.” <- These seven words have become one of the most important prayers of my life as I head downtown each and every Thursday night.
It’s sad that one can go to conference after conference after conference to crowd source inspiration to do good or even simply talk about doing good, but upon returning home, never actually say yes to doing good. (That sure was me. Lord willing, I am changing.)
And of all the techniques, ideas, concepts, and such I hear about actually doing something good, it’s amazing to me that never do I hear something so simple, yet so profound as…
- Remember their name.
- Come again.
- Seek them out.
- Say their name.
- Enjoy the conversation.
- Rinse and Repeat.
If I did, I think there’d be…. well, i’ll just leave it at that.
Enjoy the ponder.