Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Homeless Day One
It has been weeks since I returned from my “hopeless and homeless” journey and I’ve tried several times to write about my experience, to no avail. Each time I sit to write I am quickly overwhelmed with emotion at the hardship I endured during my homelessness. During that time my heart was crushed and my spirit broken. As you know I live in a fantasy world a world where humanity is alive and well. I live in a world where people “Love their Neighbor” and people show love rather than just speak it. I live where we come together so children can learn and parents can experience value. In our neighborhoods and in our schools our goal is one. It is all about people. I knew it would be tough to leave this little world I live in but because I work in a community where we have 1560 children living in transition, meaning they have no place to call home. I wanted to experience the emotions and attitudes that these families face. I wanted to go and walk in those shoes. I wanted to be able to relate to a family that finds themselves homeless. I don’t or rather I didn’t know what homelessness was like. I just know this could never be me because I have family; my two sisters would take care of me and my family. My two brothers would stand by just in case something was left undone. My parents, my church family, my friends would come to the rescue; homelessness is not something I fear. I wanted to go and learn the reason behind the behavior. I wanted to understand the acting out of children while in school, when they find themselves without their basic needs. I wanted to go and learn about how to better meet the needs of those that suffer temporary homelessness. I wanted to know what it felt like to be homeless and still function in everyday life. I wanted to better understand what these children and parents are going through. My purpose for going was to become a better provider. It is Friday and we arrive at 7:14, check in is at 8:00. We are anxiously standing around in anticipation of this thing we call Poverty Simulation. My thought is; we will experience what it is like to stay in a homeless shelter and may be eat at a local soup kitchen. It wasn’t long before I was told that would not be the case. We are in a group of 6 and we have all packed for a three day weekend. They ask us to choose 4 items we would like to keep for the weekend and the rest would be turned in and locked up. One person out of our group picked the wrong card and was not able to choose four items. They took everything she had. It was at that very moment that we became family. We go to a nearby thrift store and stand outside in the rain waiting while others shop. Rain begins to cleanse the battered pavement and mud begins to build where there is no pavement left. I look up and raindrops fall washing my body and my spirit of all misconceived notions of homelessness. I smile and am meekly thankful for my evening shower. I stand near the ally of a place so unfamiliar. My heart hurts as the feeling of loneliness takes over. Even with the people all around me I feel alone. My heart is heavy and I begin to worry of where I will sleep. It is finally our turn and we are allowed in the store out of the rain. I begin to rummage through clothes that well-meaning people have donated. There is paint, holes, missing buttons and stuff I wouldn’t dare wear. There is no other option, I have to choose something and in minutes this simulation has turned into my reality. We are allowed to choose a top, a pair of bottoms and a pair of shoes. Once we choose our items we go to a storeroom and change our clothes. They have stripped me of my identity and now I am just homeless. There is no soothing my crushed heart. I think of all I have given in the past. I don’t think I want to play this anymore. We leave all gussied up in our not so new attire. I don’t know what time it is but I assume it is around midnight because I am weary. I am lying on a sidewalk next to a fence with my new family. I feel the mist of rain drizzle on my face and God himself is washing my tears away. I dare not think of my comfortable home because it just saddens me more. I hear as the drops hits the mud puddles around me. I hear the blades of grass next to my head. I doze off just for a moment and I wake at every sound the tree next to me is making. I hear dogs in the distance and a soft sputter as cars go by. I hear others chat and I quietly wait on God to allow the sun to shine on me once more. Matthew 35 I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.