Tuesday, March 6, 2007

OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE STREETS

Whilst I am safe, warm, well fed, bathed, and have most of all my needs met; a sister and brother sleep on the streets tonight. And I only "know" of them because I saw them. There are so many more that are out of my sight - yet never out of my heart.

"She" was Hispanic, possibly in her late 40's early 50's. She was curled up against the wall like a child, facing out towards the street, under the streetlight. She looked so vulnerable, so exposed, so unprotected. "He" was African American, positioned about 10-15' away from her. He was crouched down with a hood over his head, his left hand doing a repetitive motion towards his chin. I could feel his pain in those motions. He created privacy for himself by keeping his face partially hidden by the hood of his jacket and crouching down.

I prayed as I observed them, that the angels would lie with them. There was so little I could do. I have "seen" them, they are now in my heart. You will "see" them as you read these words.

Today, I saw a brother on the street under the highway with a piece of foam from a cushion for his head to lie upon. Often the homeless sleep in open places during the day. It is safer.

I have known homelessness since 2001. This one of the rare experiences for me to be "living inside". And this is only due to the grace and generosity of "C". My life is usually lived in parking lots, using public toilets, and showering at gyms.

Yet compared to my brothers and sisters who live in the streets, my experiences of "homelessness" have been relatively cushy.

There is so much to deal with psychologically when you are homeless, when there are not four walls surrounding you. There is the experience of feeling exposed and the other experience that goes with it of feeling there is no place where you belong or are wanted.

Society for the most part, treats the homeless as something to be rid of like pests or as a homeless person you are treated as a "threat" to the security of the one with the home. In my experiences of being homeless, people have treated me like I am less than human. Then there are those in their 20's who will often glamorize my experiences. Being homeless is very difficult and I feel so much compassion for those who only have a shopping cart or a few plastic bags.

My eyes are "vigilant" in seeing my brothers and sisters on the streets whether I am walking around or driving. It feels important to "see" them. I give them what I can, when I can. Who am I to judge?

Perhaps for a moment what I give will help to create for them, a moment of peace, something to eat, and yes, sometimes even the drink or the drug. For some, that last drink or drug brings them to AA or NA and to a new life. For others it is their passage through intense suffering into oblivion.

As I said, there is so little I can "do".

Peace and love.

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