You know when you see an older lady crossing the street, when you’re in your car you wish it made sense for you to help, well, moments ago, I was on my skateboard so it did make sense to help. As I approached the recently removed crosswalk I could tell from her face and body language that she looked timid as she prepared to navigate the traffic. You’d have helped her too if you saw her, and I got to share a moment with her. She talked about her nephew and son, and her hopes of a good future for them, and I shared my love for skateboarding with her. At the end of our crossing, she told me her name was Hilary, and asked for mine. As we parted ways I gave her a hug, as is my personal custom for a goodbye, she held me tight, and said thank you and to have a good day.
This small act made me feel joyous, proud, and happy, it’s the same feeling I get when I donate to 1JustCity, and know that because of my gifts, whatever size, many people get a caring person to help them to cross some sort of challenge today, maybe its hunger, maybe its loneliness. The day before meeting Hilary I had attended a sharing circle at 1JustCity’s member charity St. Matthew’s-Maryland. While taking photos of the space to raise awareness of 1JustCity on social media, I was welcomed to participate in the weekly sharing circle. I didn’t know what to expect even though I’ve been in a few sharing circles.
First, we smudged (see the photo it is a way to cleanse yourself of negativity), I love smudging. I don’t practice it enough in my personal life; a time to slow down, be present in the moment, except that I am, and that is enough. The coordinator then invited anyone to start the circle off with their own prayer, I held back although I kind of wanted to jump in. After the opening prayer, we heard from everyone around the circle. I heard people describe their struggles, struggles entrenched in poverty which I have read about, seen on my computer screen or on tv. The description of the struggles combined with being present in the moment allowed me to reflect on how I would handle those situations. Putting myself in their shoes I knew I would be overwhelmed with feelings of doubt, anxiety, and worthlessness. I did not want them to be in those situations they were so kind, so welcoming. I was a stranger they’d made feel at home immediately.
At the end of the circle, the coordinator asked if anyone would like to close out the prayer, I took the opportunity. I stated my name in my Dakota language, then shared three things I was grateful for: my health, family, and strangers coming together in a positive way and being peaceful together. I had to leave quickly thereafter and I only had time to wave my hand in the window and I watched as they all looked up and waved back with smiles on their faces, and at that moment I felt a strong connection to people I had only met with for an hour. A social connection is a medicine. And I was able to help cultivate medicine with strangers for an hour on that day, but I know its only possible because of your generosity. Because of you none of those people are struggling alone. Because of you none of those people is without someone to listen to them. Because of your generosity – So I asked to write this so I could express that I am grateful for you!
Hanwakan Blaikie Whitecloud
Donor and Media Volunteer