Hello and Welcome

Hello. Welcome to my new blog...'Between the Jackets'. What's it about? Life. Everything that happens between the jackets of birth and death. The real story. It's about people of all shapes and sizes, different personalities, unusual struggles, and funny situations. This also includes children, animals, crawling, creeping, and swimming creatures.

Let's face it, some days life serves you a big plate of worms. Not very tasty in my opinion. Other days it's a 'picture perfect' stuffed turkey next to a crystal dish filled with cranberry sauce. Yum! And please don't forget there are going to be those 'cheeseburger and fries' days, which essentially boils down to the funny, awkward, and in between moments of day to day living. Because life is pretty much unpredictable, I'm going to do my best at getting it right. Some days I know I won't. The best books and stories ever written come from personal experience and the struggles we face every day. These struggles we eventually overcome and, oftentimes, laugh about. They are the hidden treasures that make up the space 'Between the Jackets' and are well worth remembering.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Help! Poor Man Beaten!

I was on my way to dinner a few days ago with a few friends in Salt Lake City when I witnessed a brutal act perpetrated on a young man that tore at my heart. One of my friends was driving, thank goodness, or I probably would have wrecked the car. In fact, I don't even like driving the city in heavy traffic, and that's what we were in. We stopped six cars back from a red light, kitty corner from a large crowd of men and women gathered outside of a building. There appeared to be, at least, a hundred or so waiting. Most were standing, but some were sitting. I couldn't help thinking they all appeared restless.

"Is there a concert going on here tonight?" I asked the friend who was driving the car. Two other friends turned and gave me the strangest looks. "What?" I asked them.

"It's the homeless shelter," one of them replied.

I quickly turned back to the large crowd. "Homeless? But there's so many of them!"

"It's so sad," another said to me.

"Unbelievable!" said the driver, shaking her head.

Unbelievable, yet so much more! I live on five acres in a country setting over an hour's drive northwest of Salt Lake City. Unless I'm going to a movie, a sports event, or shopping, I don't often see that many people at one time. But even I couldn't believe the size of the crowd that stood covering the corner in front of the building that day. Most of the people I noticed seemed younger. I found myself wondering how many of them had something unfortunate happen they had no power to control, only to find themselves fighting to find enough to eat and a place to sleep every day.

As my friends and I sat in the car waiting for traffic to clear one of the bigger guys on the corner stood up and grabbed a smaller man by the head and threw him to the ground. In seconds the bigger guy sat down on top of the smaller guy and began beating him. The bigger man slugged him in the sides and began pummeling him in the head. I let out a scream. I wanted to get out of the car and go pull the bully off of the other guy's chest. I pounded on my window, but I know no one heard me. The traffic was moving by that time and it was time to turn the corner.

"Someone, please help him!" I yelled, trying frantically to roll my window down. Through the crowd two young men who didn't look any older than about eighteen or nineteen finally grabbed the big guy's shoulders and arms and pulled him away from the kid being beaten. There were so many others who could have stepped up and stopped a fight like this but didn't. I saw plenty of older guys there--strong able men. And yet it seemed like it was the younger men that day that deemed it necessary to take charge and reestablish some semblance of order.

I watched the young man who had been beaten so badly get up, throw an arm around a young woman who stepped up to help him, and limp down the street while wiping away a blood spattered face. Though we were turning the corner and driving away I wanted to get out of the car and run back and hug him. I wanted to cry with him. I wanted to help him, give him enough money to feed him and his girlfriend for a couple of nights. The restaurant where we planned to dine was just around the corner, but by the time we parked and I'd run to the street to find him, he and his girlfriend were gone.

I turned toward the homeless shelter. The crowd of people still stood there...restless and waiting...and my heart ached. I couldn't feed them all. I wanted to cry.

The scene that had just played out before my friends and me remained with me the rest of that night...and still plays over and over again in my mind. So many of the men and women who crowded the street late that afternoon wore faces of desperation, despair, and hopelessness; these weren't criminals, though one acted out violently, they were human beings down on their luck, jobless, and facing future days of empty pockets and an oncoming winter. Scary stuff!

So what can someone like me do for so many, I asked myself repeatedly over the next few weeks? I'm one woman...and there were so many on the corner that afternoon. I decided that to begin with I could add my prayers to the many other prayers of those praying for brothers, sisters, friends, families and children who are in desperate situations searching for jobs and in need of food and shelter. Prayers are far more powerful when multitudes pray together, I think. If you haven't started to pray in earnest for those in great need, my thought is to join with us and begin doing so now. I believe emphatically and without reservation that prayer can and will make a tremendous difference in all of our lives.

I also decided that I could give more to the homeless from my own closets at home. In one closet I filled two black garbage bags of clothes, coats, and shoes. This wasn't my junk. I gave the kind of clothing and things my husband and I would still want to wear. I have plans to donate toys and blankets for the holidays. I’m donating food. I’m going to seek out families that might need a few Christmas presents for their children. I’m going to buy extra turkeys for Thanksgiving. I’m keeping extra dollar bills in my wallet. And this is a big one…I’m going to keep my eyes open and pay more attention to people around me. I’m going to look at their shoes, coats, pants, shirts, and watch for cold fingers. I’ve got blankets I can share.

My son stopped in the other day at our home…just to say hello. It was cold outside and raining. The wind was blowing relentlessly. “Son!” I asked. “Where’s your coat on a day like this?”

He didn’t say anything. That confused me, so I asked him again, “I mean it. Where’s your dang coat?”

He turned and gave me the sweetest, most indulgent smile, one I’ve seen hundreds of times over the years, which of course told me immediately an unexpected revelation was forthcoming. “Mom! Don’t worry.” He threw his arm around my neck, hugged me close, and whispered, “I gave it away to someone that needed it far more than I did.”

His comment left me speechless. Little does he know, that’s just the kind of thing that makes mothers worry even more; it’s in our natures. And of course…somehow between us…another coat will be bought to replace the one that was given away.
Think for a moment what would happen if fifty people did the same thing...then one hundred people...or a thousand decided to help, donating more time and energy than they ever have before now.

Yes, our family enjoys donating to needy families every holiday season. Acts of service over the holidays brings peace and harmony into our family. But my personal challenge is to increase my efforts to help those in need (people who fight every day JUST to survive) more consistently. Yes, I really do believe efforts to help can be tripled...and that my family and I can make a bigger difference.
More importantly...we want to make a difference.

What kind of nation would we have if we all stepped forward to lend a helping hand? That old saying…United we stand, and divided we fall…is certainly a familiar cliché, yet it seems as true today as it ever did.

So I’ll keep praying for a nation that could use a great deal of new direction, and for the unification of people everywhere, that we may be ever mindful of our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves, and unafraid to pray for the divine intervention needed to help us all.

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