Today I saw humanity right there in the food line at the soup kitchen. I sat among the outcast of society that we lock our doors in the sight of. I smelled the stench of homelessness, the simple lack of cleanliness. I watched the downcast eyes briefly gaze upon me wondering who was looking at them this time. I witnessed a man trying to sell branches intertwined by hand for $15 as a table decoration and two teenagers dressed in grunge appearing to be free but longing to be loved. I was there only briefly but for long enough to feel the filth of poverty, the heavy heartedness of neglect, the looks of longing crying out is there nothing more, the blank stares of hopelessness just existence, only 30 minutes and I felt the awkwardness of sitting by one I would never know and probably would never see again. The words of an aged man still ring in my ears “I would not wish my life on another. I would never want to live this life again”. He did not smell of liquor his eyes were not glazed over, he was completely coherent and appeared to be stable.
The streets I so briefly walked upon in apprehension they sleep upon at night. I will never know or understand the past that lead them to their present but I pray for their future. I pray that they may someday find their way back to sobriety, belief, hope and God’s eternal graces. Each one has a story no two are the same; some from Virginia another Tennessee all on a journey mislead through the tragedies of the downtrodden, disrespected by a society of fearful, judgmental, unfeeling hypocrites who pray for the poor on Sundays but would not lock eyes with on the street. I did nothing but open my ears to their stories, my heart to their wounds they opened to me, my mind to understand there is no one “homeless man or woman” they are us, we are them; each with our past, our journey, each with our present, our future not knowing where that will lead and many with the faith in God that He will get them there one day.
And so they walk the streets, sit on the corners, push their carts and ride their bikes, talking to no one, begging for a buck, just saying hi, waiting… for compassion, dignity to be treated as we say we should treat each other waiting…for our eyes to meet their eyes so that we can view the eyes of Christ. If you listen, if you look, if you truly open your heart you will see that he dwells within the homeless man or woman for he dwells within all humanity. And I saw humanity, smelled the stench, felt the pain and it was real, it was real.
Copyright 2010 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp