About a month ago, I joined a running group called A Mile In My Shoes. We meet at a men's shelter twice a week and run with homeless men. I went with my friend and running partner and our motivation was to, in some way, help these men. As we were being introduced to the homeless men and the volunteers we each began mentally categorizing each.
By the end of the first run, I found myself energized and touched. The first thing I discovered was that I had categorized most of the people incorrectly. One young man that I will call John, is a college student studying criminal justice. He takes 16-17 credits/semester and is on the dean's list. When my friend and I arrived at that first run, John introduced himself and chatted with us. He explained that we shouldn't worry about where we were running because, "I have your back". Another homeless man that I will call Jerry was a division I athlete, had a job with Fox sports for many years, has a daughter about to enter college, and is now homeless.
I have learned about the dignity of a hug. I have learned about the importance of saying someone's name. I have learned how simple and honest it is to say, "I was worried about you" and what it means to the recipient.
Now I go to run with these men because of what it gives me. I want the best for each of them. They touch my heart every day. I have also learned that to be hugged, to have someone know my name, and to run with friends is enough for today. Everything else is a luxury.