I lay in my bed and see the people on the street. My imagination goes wild. What might it be like to be one living on the street?
To have no cool place to lay my head at night. No shelter from the storms that come. To have no privacy, no real space to call my own, no kitchen to prepare meals in, no couch to lay on. To truly not know where my next meal might come from or what it might consist of. To have no more belongings than I could carry with me wherever I go.
I don’t know how I would be able to keep going. I don’t know how I’d be able to see God’s presence in my life, or how I would be able to trust that there even was a God – especially one that loves unconditionally. I don’t know how I would be able to push myself to look for a job or for help.
It’s easy for me, in that moment of imagination, to understand how people living on the street turn to drugs or alcohol or just plain go crazy.
It’s so easy for us to judge those who have found themselves homeless. We see them as lazy and unwilling to work hard enough. We are sure that if we give them the right help, they can turn their lives around and be a productive part of society. If they try just a little bit harder, they can surely find a job. Or maybe, if they’d stop using that Blackberry we just saw them texting on, they’d be able to pay rent somewhere.
But then again, we’ve never been homeless. We can’t possibly know what it’s like to live on the street, day after day, week after week. No matter what the circumstances are that might find us on the street, once we’re there, it’s near impossible to get out.
Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us. Our homeless neighbors will always be there. We are not called to judge them for being homeless – we are merely called to serve. To provide acts of love and compassion.
My prayer today is that we begin to look past why people might need help and walk alongside them – no matter where they live, no matter what they look like, no matter how they live.