Out of Touch


Today was one of those days I've been feeling a little off. The relationship-building work of a community coordinator is largely (you'll never see this coming) relational. Being a strong introvert, I like that the "people" aspect of this neighborhood work gets me up and moving, meeting people, remembering names, introducing neighbors to each other. Lately, however, there has been a lot more deskwork to do. Between flyers, fundraiser promotions, social media posts, and spreadsheets of housing data, my tasks have ended up being oriented toward more screens than people. Typically I love these types of tasks. I enjoy when I have a job that I can accomplish by sitting down to a computer, having something to show for before I stand up, and getting a break from the messiness of relationships.But today I hit a breaking point of sorts. So many administrative tasks left me feeling--I'm wasn't sure what it was exactly. Whatever it was, it bothered me so much, I decided to get out of the house for a bit and see what would happen. I started off with a walk. Along the way to nowhere in particular, a passerby stopped me to ask to borrow my phone, and we set on the curb talking (and waiting for her ride) for about 30 minutes. Still not quite out of my funk, I opted for a bike ride toward downtown. Maybe I'd take my book and read at the library for a change of scenery. Just around the corner from my proposed destination, I rode past City Light, the Community Ministry of First Baptist Church. It was just before lunch, and a line was already formed out front of folks waiting to eat and hang out. City Light is usually Janet's hang out, so I called to see if she was there. She wasn't, but she drove up before we even got off the phone. I followed her in and we checked the kitchen to make sure there were enough volunteers. It was a busy day, as it turned out, so we stayed to lend a hand. My job ended up being handing plastic sacks to other workers to fill with groceries for guests to take home. By the time the last bag was filled with fresh produce and bread, I realized that the interactions had lifted my spirits. Aha! That's what I had been feeling: out of touch. I got to talk with people I know; I got to meet several new faces. After a chat with Gayle, a hearty "How are doing, Brother Shaver?" from Mark, and a couple of wait-where-do-I-know-you-from glances from long-lost connections, I felt better. I felt grounded. It helped the flyers and spreadsheets to have meaning again. There's not really even overlap between City Light regulars and neighbors I typically see at our neighborhood events. It's just that I was welcomed in and greeted by women and men, many of whom I have very little in common with. I can't help but wonder how many of the hundred or so people in the building for lunch had come for the same reason: human connection.