Carpe diem

I suppose something titled "Carpe diem" is an inevitability on a cancer blog.  But the reality of this age-old truth hit me in a new way yesterday.  "Carpe diem" is a theme in Scripture, which can be found in II Chronicles 15:7, II Corinthians 5, and, more laconically, in Ecclesiastes 9:10.  Yesterday, I traveled back to the hustle and bustle of the only city I've ever called home, Minneapolis.  It's no big secret that I am a country girl, although I was born near the heart of downtown Minneapolis.  My earliest memories are from my parents hobby farm in rural central Minnesota, and I remember the confines of Grand Forks seemed stifling during my childhood.

After graduating from college, I found a great job at a great university hospital in Minneapolis, moved and promptly bought a house 9 months later.  It was a whirlwind, just like the rest of my life.  Going back still feels like going home, although I only lived there for 4 years total.  My aunt and uncle still live across the street from my little 1930's Cape Cod blocks from the Mississippi river.

What struck me yesterday is God provides opportunities to serve those He loves.  Maybe it's because I've lived the bulk of my life in a rural, isolated climate.  There are very few opportunities to serve anyone outside your family when you live on a quiet country road with acres between neighbors.  You just don't see homeless people on the street corner...even in the towns that surround.  Winter is too harsh.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to serve my church via the internet.  That was a welcome opportunity, since I don't often get the chance to serve my church because of a busy schedule, long miles that separate our home from church, and a plethora of those more willing or able than I.  Lack of routine opportunities to serve my church make it seem like a momentous event...something I shouldn't take for granted.

Finally, in the late evening, I passed a homeless man on a street corner in northern Minneapolis while out shopping for groceries.  My brothers and I have a hilarious storehouse of memories pertaining to homeless people and our mother.  She has a history of snatching whatever food we were about to insert into our hungry mouths, stuffing it all back in the sack it came from, and hurling the whole package out of a moving vehicle in even the sketchiest of inner-city neighborhoods.  We ended one trip to Louisville eating cheddar cheese and grape jelly with no bread...because she had hurled our PB&J sandwiches at a mother and child begging on a street corner earlier in the day.  She once handed another homeless man her half-eaten orange and $20...he was probably without proper sources for Vitamin C in the Minnesota mid-winter, God forbid!  I had a measly $8 in my pocket yesterday, so I ran through the drive-thru and picked up an artery and liver-clogging double Whopper with cheese, large fries and a Coke.  I began to have second thoughts when handing off the meal to the obviously alcoholic and therefore anorexic Native American gentleman panhandling at the corner (if you see an obituary for a 60 something homeless man in Minneapolis who died following a gall bladder attack, let me know and I'll go 'fess up...).  True to my mom's cautious but generous form (and my police officer brother's warnings), I locked the doors, cracked the window, and watched his eyes for cues in case he should try to jump me in my 1984 Honda Accord.

It's just not every day that you get to feed someone you don't know.  It's not every day I get the chance to say "God bless you" to a man on a street corner.  Now, if I lived in a more temperate climate or busier metropolitan area, I'd probably have to develop a budget plan for my random acts of philanthropy.  But that isn't my situation.  What struck me yesterday is that God provided that opportunity.  My first reaction is always the cautious one: avoid eye contact and hurry on past, maybe offer up a prayer for the poor soul but avoid doing something tangible, something monetary.  Something that takes my day out of it's normal routine.  But when I do recognize it as opportunity instead of awkwardunity, I am inevitably blessed.

There's no way to seek out random.  But every time random opportunity comes knocking, this country girl plans to seize it.  I'm still thanking God this morning for the soul-lift as I handed food out to a poor man who humbly asked for help.  My soul is still high on it.  And I can't wait to do it again.