Hope and Judgment

Written on Thursday, July 27, 2023    Published on August 8, 2023

I love to take walks.

Ten years ago, I took a lot of walks.  I had time.  Since then, I have continued to take long walks.  What are long walks?  Three-to-five miles with additional several double-digit walks.  All of these walks are done during the summer.

During those walks, I listen to the radio, audiobooks, and podcasts.

These long walks began in Dublin, California.  I would get up early.  Take the BART to Walnut Creek.  Then, I would walk from Walnut Creek all the way home in Dublin.  I LOVED IT!

Towards the end of our time in Dublin (2008-17) on these long walks, I began to carry the USA flag.  In that Bay Area region, the responses were all over the place!  Go figure!  It’s the Bay Area.  I would have waves, thumb ups, and yes, the “one-fingered-salute” with an “F-BOMB.”  YIKES.  And this was 10 years ago!  Now?  When I carry the USA flag, I literally put my life in jeopardy.  Screw it!  I still carry it.  I carry it in memory of our grandfather who was killed on the USS INDIANAPOLIS.  Commander Flynn is the Executive Officer.  “Present tense” on purpose because he is still on the ship at sea.  I carry the USA flag in honor of our son who is a Lieutenant in the USNAVY.

On July 10, 2017, we moved back to Roseville, California and I have continued to take long walks with the USA flag.

The last long walk for the summer vacation was on July 24, 2023.  6:00am-to-11:30am, I walked FIFTEEN MILES.  I walked from our home in Roseville, California to Whitney High School – Rocklin, California.

At the beginning of this walk, something happened for the first time!

As I was walking on Foothills Blvd. – a six lane thoroughfare – a homeless was on the opposite side of the street.  How do I know he was homeless?  Well, his clothes were in bad shape.  He was dirty.  He fit the description of a homeless man.

Oh, my goodness!  HE WAS SO EXCITED to see the Cross I was holding.  Yup!  I have begun to carry a Cross.  I want people to know I am a Christian.

He was jumping up and down!  Waving at me.  Putting his thumb up in the air.  Tremendous smile.  Genuine joy!  A very different response than the Cross.

My response to him?  I enthusiastically waved.  Smiled.  Thumbs-up.  I almost crossed the street to be with him, but again, six lanes.  That is a wide street to “J-walk” on.

As the homeless man and I were enjoying our company, a young couple with their baby and dog were walking towards me.

Not as vigorously as I was with the homeless man, I waved at the young couple.

Their response?  Ummm… probably could not have been more opposite than the homeless man.  If looks could kill, I would not be writing this article.  They created a little more space between us.

The lady gave me the dirtiest look and the husband?  Wouldn’t even make eye contact with me.  Here is me being too “judgy” – WIMP.

I was taken aback by the contrast of responses to the same “man-with-a-Cross.”

I share the story in this video.  Two Minutes with Paul

What have I learned from the two responses?  Thanks to a friend.  The homeless man saw a man carry the Cross (me) as a sign of hope.  The young couple, walking their baby and their small dog saw the same many carrying the Cross (me) as a sign of judgment.

WOW!  Blow my mind!

May I ask all of us to consider displaying the hope the homeless man did?

There does seem to be more and more people who are just a little too “judgy.”  I know I can be one of those “too many people.”

That homeless man needed to see the Cross.  He needed to have someone acknowledge him.  I can only imagine how many people look away at him.

The couple?  Well, I think some day they will need to see the Cross as hope.  I know they saw the man carrying the Cross as someone who is creepy.  Again, too “judgy.”

See the Cross now!  Don’t wait for only the bad times in your life to look towards God.  Every day I thank God for all of it, including the suffering and the evil.  And know, like many of you, I feel my fair share of suffering and evil.  What haven’t I done enough?  Thank God for all those times.  Due to those times of suffering and evil, I know now…I grow closer to God.

Sure.  It is easy to thank God for all the good in your life.  Yet, the opportunities for us to grow even more closer to God are those times of suffering and evil.

Thank you to both the homeless man and couple for showing me the power of the Cross.