Christopher and a $5 Bucket of Voodoo Doughnuts
It was Sunday and my training schedule said I needed to walk 10 miles. I decided that I wanted to walk 10 miles of the Portland Half-Marathon. I would just cut out 3.1 of the miles in the up and back. My friend, Barb, offered to walk 5 of the miles with me. Anthony needed to put in a run for his training and so we brought Christopher along on his bike, too.
After the first 5 miles, Barb and Christopher headed to the Portland Saturday (and Sunday) Market while I headed off for the rest of my walk. With about 2 miles left, I got a text from Barb:
And so I ended up with an amazingly delicious vegan chocolate doughnut with chocolate puffs all over it. (Voodoo Doughnuts is a novelty here in Portland. Especially their Maple Bacon Bar.) But then they showed me this bucket full of about 30 doughnuts. Which they had purchased for $5! They were day old. The doughnut that Christopher had originally wanted would cost $4.75 fresh! But they had a day old one in this bucket, so Barb spent the extra 25 cents and they ended up with 30 doughnuts. Barb figured she could re-use the bucket and decided we could hand out the rest of the doughnuts to people hanging out on the waterfront.
The waterfront. The same waterfront where I walked last week. Where someone had died. Just last week. Some unknown, nameless person. Someone I didn't know and would never know...
But this week would be different. Christopher would run ahead of us with this bucket of doughnuts offering them to anyone who would partake. Which would be mostly the homeless along the waterfront. They were more than happy to enjoy a doughnut. Sometimes picking the one on top. Sometimes being a little picky. Sometimes asking for two. And sometimes they would run ahead and tell others that we had free doughnuts. You would have thought we were Santa Claus.
Yes, this week would be different. Instead of lingering wonderings of the unknown person in a body bag... there would be a known person. A person who wanted me to know his name. He wanted all of us to know his name. And he wanted to hug each and every one of us. He wanted to hug me. Then he hugged Christopher and Barb and then Anthony. And his name? Ivan.
Let me tell you... YES, I WAS NERVOUS! and suspicious! As he slowly came in for a hug thoughts rushed through my mind
Where is my wallet?Motive? Motive? He gently and lightly hugged me. Very appropriately distanced. Then he smiled with his partially toothless grin. How old was he? 30? No, probably early 20s. The drugs and time on the street had probably aged him 10 years, for sure.
Where will his hands be when he is hugging me?
What is his motive for hugging me?
Does he have a needle in his hand and will poke me with it?
Will he leave a lingering layer of illegal drug scent on me?
We left Ivan there. Smiling. Enjoying a doughnut. Having been hugged four times... once by each of us. And Christopher ran off. Continuing to offer doughnuts to everyone he met. Wanting to come down and do this again every Sunday. You know that marvelously wonderful feeling you get when you are giving but really receiving more than you are giving? Yeah, that was him. And us, too.
And on this Sunday, I will walk 13.1 miles. Starting at SW Taylor Street and SW 4th Avenue. I most likely will not see much except pavement and lots of screaming spectators along the route.
I will not be a spectator.
I will be a participant.
I will be in the game. On the walk.
And I have been changed.
By an unknown soul.
By a $5 bucket of doughnuts.
And by a hug from Ivan.
And I thought I was doing all of this training to earn a silly medal.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,
but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last;
but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly;
I do not fight like a man beating the air.
No, I beat my body and make it my slave
so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27