Time to notice

A last minute assignment this morning. Church members feed the homeless. Add it to the pile, I’ve covered plenty of these before. No biggie.

I drove up and pulled into a little church on Davis Highway. Heirs of the Kingdom Church — cool name. There were a handful of church members standing out front.

They took me inside. Introduced me to the pastor. They were all extremely nice. I was a little bit distracted. In the back of my mind, I was thinking about other assignments. Deadlines. Hours.

This is the first time the church has done one of these, and they decided to go all out. Along with showers, haircuts and BBQ ribs, they were giving out back massages and foot rubs. I was impressed. I fired off a few frames, knowing the photos would probably be buried in the paper. Feed the homeless stories are, after all, pretty routine.

Back in the office, while scrolling through my roll of mediocre shots, this photo stopped me in my tracks.

foot-rub-tif_filtered

The woman in the middle. I never saw her. Never got her name.  She must have come into the room as I was slinking into a corner to frame these shots. Before that, she came from some shelter, or camp, or God knows where.

She came for a warm shower and a hot meal. That’s what was on the flier. Imagine the surprise when she walked into that room. Scented oils in the air. Soft music. Massages. She sat down quietly, folded her hands, and smiled.

I never saw her.

It was quiet in the newsroom when I got back. Empty cubicles. Black computer screens. Except for mine, which glowed with emotion. It choked me up. It still does.

How many times before have I not noticed her? How many times have we passed on the street? In a shelter? At a soup kitchen? Me carrying my notepad and camera, skittering about and then rushing off, without ever taking the time to notice her.

Thank God that someone takes time.

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