Even though it wasn’t an official walking group day, I headed out for a quick stroll around the neighborhood before taking my son to his basketball game. Since I was staying pretty close to home I wasn’t sure if I’d find too many interesting things to take pictures of. I don’t normally enjoy photographing buildings and I was surrounded, but was pleasantly surprised, though, that several things caught my eye. I guess I shouldn’t have been since we always find what we’re looking for if you’re paying attention. For example, the grass not two steps outside the door to our building.

Or the flowers already blooming on the tree…

…five feet away from the tree that was having a hard time letting go of its leaves.

Nature was spreading out and taking over, forming a canopy of intricate branches and deep, vibrant green.

Didn’t notice the almost hidden view of the stream until after I had passed it. Once my brain registered what I’d seen out of the corner of my eye, I back-tracked to see if I could get a good shot. This one’s not perfect. Maybe I’ll try again next time.

Another sign Spring is just around the corner.

Love these trees. They’re everywhere around here and each one is different.

Happy with the images safely stored in my camera and realizing it was almost time to leave, I headed back home. That’s when I saw him. He was sitting on the sidewalk next to a medical building across the street from our apartment, surrounded by his backpack, other bundles, and a sign that said FOOD. My initial reaction was to immediately turn left and cut across the parking lot to avoid him instead of continuing on past him. Just as quickly as the desire to escape an encounter with him entered my mind, so did a pang of guilt. I’ve been talking about treating people, even the ones society has forgotten or looks down upon, with respect and kindness and have even stepped way out of my comfort zone to interact some of them.

So why was my first reaction to this man to go out of my way to avoid interacting with him? Perhaps it was a hint of fear because I wasn’t used to seeing homeless people so close to my home and he didn’t appear to be fully capable of making wise decisions, but I know it was mostly because I didn’t want him to ask me for anything. Even though telling him I didn’t have anything would’ve been the truth, I knew I’d be uncomfortable. Yet there he was in my path, a person just like me, so I kept going. He did ask me for something as I approached, something I could give. Instead of asking for food or money or a cigarette, all he wanted was directions to the nearest place where he could get a cup of coffee.

It was a good reminder that it’s much easier to tell other people what they should do than to actually do it ourselves, but if we want the respect of others we must talk the talk AND walk the walk. We are an example to everyone we come in contact with, especially if we have kids. They hear the words we say, but ultimately imitate what we do and if those don’t match up they won’t respect us or embrace the values we want so much to teach them. Each and everyday we need to look at ourselves and make sure our walk is in line with our talk. Not an easy task, but like most things that push us outside our comfort zone, worth the effort.

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