A Rainy Day Rite of Passage

By: Justin Chambers

For the majority of us, a rainy day merely presents an inconvenience, yet for some of our brothers and sisters it’s a bit more than that. Last Monday I checked my phone in the morning to see what the weather was going to be like; the forecast predicted rain. I grabbed myphoto1 umbrella and I was off to work, ready to face the day ahead of me. Our first stop serving lunch out on the streets went well but as we headed down Ponce the drops began to fall. I opened my cheap umbrella thinking it would keep me dry.  It didn’t. In minutes I was soaked.  We were all soaked.  Cars drove by and splashed us and water fell off the building as if it were falling from a waterfall.  Adding excitement to an already busy day, the soup we were carrying somehow tipped over before our last stop.  When we arrived at Catch-Out Corner we huddled under the ledge of a store in an attempt to keep the rain off the food.  It was a little hectic, yet everyone pitched in to help, and everyone ate.

It has been a long time since I was so completely soaked. Yet as we were walking back to Mercy it dawned on me, unlike for my friends, for me this moment was temporary.  At the end of the day I would find myself driving home in my dry car to put on clean, dry clothes. After I left Mercy that day, I found myself in a somewhat strange, reflective state. It was just wet clothes after all.  Yet it seemed as if there was more to it. I wanted to sit with the wetness for a while to get a glimpse, if only for a moment, of the struggle that so many of our sisters and brothers without homes face every day.

My mind turned to the story of the Good Samaritan and I thought about who my neighbor really is and what community looks like. In Jesus’ parable, the guy on the side of the road had been robbed and beaten, and the people that society expected to help simply walked by.  How often have I driven or walked past our brothers and sisters simply ignoring them, hoping they won’t ask for change?  A rainy day with my sisters and brothers put me in a position where I could either comfort myself by saying, “This is crazy!” or lean into the discomfort of the moment.  For me the rain, as wet as it was, was like a rite of passage—a kind of street baptism.  Seeing others as neighbors called to love one another offers the opportunity to take part in healthy community, where we defy what is expected of us and live out our ministry in new and radical ways.  For me, I had my Samaritan moment on a rainy day walking down the road, yet your moment maybe somewhere else.  Don’t keep walking.  There is an opportunity waiting for you to love, to be in community, to experience the face of God on that long and troublesome road.