I never know what to say when someone tells me that they are nervous about going or knowing that I am going to a certain part of town.
I was wary of entering Oakland for the first time, since I'd heard so many stories on the news about Oakland's protests and violence. I hear my initial thoughts echoed in friends who ask me about the places I travel around while living in the Bay Area.
I don't know how much to express to people that Oakland is so beautiful and rich with culture; that the food in Oakland is experimental and awesome. I want to say that the pain of poverty and the violence of hate means that Oakland is a complex place to be in community, and that there is so much need to love the people and places in Oakland.
I've heard the same stories of fear in entering certain parts of Columbus. The neighborhoods between Bexley and Downtown are full of unkempt yards, graffiti, roads that have not been maintained, and plenty of foot traffic. This is where I bike and this is where I bus. People have asked me what precautions I take as a woman going through this area alone.
I walked alone on Livingston Ave. today. I was walking past a bus stop and a man asked me to take out my earbuds so he could talk to me. He didn't even ask for my name before offering me 2 dollars for busfare so I wouldn't have to walk. I was absolutely floored by his offer.
Just two weeks ago, I was biking through Bexley and a group of high schoolers were walking on the sidewalk as I past them. One of the girls sneered at me and said, "I hope you can afford a car!"
Does it matter if the lawns and houses look immaculate and well-kept if there is no love or compassion for the other? Does it matter if I have little money but choose to give it to others to make their day easier?
All I do know is that the man who offered me money said a blessing to me as I walked away from him and that I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face for 20 minutes. Compassion has a way of spreading through everything.
I know hear myself raising up fears and doubts when entering a hospital room or the trauma center to support a patient, their family, or staff. I feel as if my body is tensed up with nervousness and I fear that I might not say helpful words or have a fruitful conversation with someone. That hospital room is my Oakland or Livingston Ave. Inside there are people who are have joy and pain; doubts and fears of their own.
I am not afraid of walking down Livingston Ave; I just do it and know that I can handle situations as they arise. I am afraid of knocking on that hospital room door. But I know that entering that room will happen and I will just do it. I thank God for words of compassion and support for people that are in need. I can and will handle situations as they arise. The anxiety is still there and it goes in with me. My heart emanates off of me; the beat of love is the part of me that enters first and meets the people where they are. Sometimes my head and mouth might think or say some things, but my heart is there always, caring immensely. That's what matters and what I need to remind myself of every time.