“I’ve seen you out here before.”


“I’ve seen you guys out here before. What are you doing?”

That’s what Lawrence said when he first walked up to where we were standing (dancing is more like it—no one stands still on February nights like these). He’s quiet, looks young, and isn’t really dressed warmly enough for this weather (Ah, youth.) We talk for a while, tell him about Emmaus, give him a card and invite him to the center. Later that night we see him again and help him get on a train to get to where he is staying. A fairly typical first interaction on Outreach.

It’s not until i’m drifting off to sleep later that night that i recognize the significance of those first words.

It’s been another cold winter in Chicago. Maybe not as bad as last year, but still cold enough to keep traffic down in Boystown. Also, a number of the men we usually see there have either moved, are incarcerated, or have just disappeared. So Andi and i have spent more than the usual number of lonely Outreach nights lately, with only each other’s scintillating discourse to keep us warm.

But when you do something unusual, people notice you. And if you keep doing something unusual, like an hour-long, slow, cold-feet dance at 2:00am on a corner in Boystown, week after week, people start to wonder what’s wrong with you. That’s why we stick with it. By the time curiosity gets the best of them, they already know you’re either very committed to what you’re doing, or a bit daft. Maybe both.

But the door is open.

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