Commentary: Learning a life lesson in a church parking lot

"Yeah, somewhere in here it says something about people who haven't found God are the walking dead," the bearded homeless man said to a volumeter. "I think it means they have no sense of wholeness because you have not let God in yet."

They were both holding Bibles over their hearts. This caught my attention.

I shifted my gaze from my vat of 90 soon-to-be-scrambled eggs to his weathered and dignified face. He looked back at me, and I quickly went back to the safety of my work.

Shortly after, all the people who had arrived at The Crossing Church in Costa Mesa were holding hands and saying a prayer in unison.

After the prayer, everyone went separate ways, did separate jobs, ate separately.

Then a man in a wheelchair came up to me, and we greeted each other with the uncomfortable "Good morning." He didn't wheel away, but instead looked at me as if he was going to say something else.

Just then I heard a yip. It was his tiny tea cup Chihuahua, Fifi. He talked about tea cup Chihuahuas and records for the smallest ever and how small that would look and how she was too small for a lot of things but she was still big enough to make a significant difference in his life.

I had heard the quote, "Dogs aren't our whole lives, but they make our lives whole" before, and thought it sounded deep and parallel, yet conflicting.

On Dec. 6, in The Crossing's back parking lot, I went from walking dead to walking alive.

I do not know if it was God or just my brain releasing dopamine because I was helping someone, but whatever it was, something that I had not realized was empty was now filled.

I am part of an organization called the National League of Young Men, which gives sons philanthropy opportunities around the Orange County area. Mothers help the sons organize philanthropy opportunities, run meetings and welcome guest speakers to talk about topics from substance abuse to how to take a girl on a date correctly.

The group of young men who represented the National League of Young Men at The Crossing was its sophomore class, the class of 2017.

The league is centered on making sure its young men not only learn things they should not forget, like how to tie a tie, but also the things they cannot forget, like the feeling I had after helping those in need.

The league provides a sturdy platform that bolsters high school students when they dive into adult life. I may forget the lesson about the twists and turns of the tie, but I will take the lesson I learned at The Crossing in the back parking lot with me my whole life.

On Dec. 6, I forgot about the old, worn-out clothes. I forgot about the dirty, leathery faces and hands. I forgot about them not having roofs over their heads.

But I remembered the smiles on their faces and the gratitude in their eyes and the sincerity with which they said, "God bless your kind souls."

I remembered walking with the alive, not walking with the dead.

BRETT SUPER is a sophomore at Sage Hill High School in Newport Beach and is in his second year participating in the National League of Young Men.

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