There are a lot of people who make excuses for not serving the homeless. I know I have spoken about this before but it bothers me still. I love when we go to Love Park and adults pretend like the homeless do not exist while their young children just stare as they are being led by their parents. It is sad really. With such a great opportunity to learn and teach the future generation about a reality that exists, it is passed up and lost. I guess there is simply not a lot of time to talk stuff like that with our children. We leave them to figure things out on their own with hopes that they will not fall into the wrong crowd and make the same choices these men and women have made. I guess that is one way of raising kids. It isn’t the way I would want to do it personally but I guess most people would rather “protect” their kid’s minds from something like the homeless. Never mind the TV shows they watch and the violence they endure through that. The again, I am just ranting as I usually do. I just wish we would spend a little more time teaching our future generation the truth about life in a manner in which is appropriate for them to understand. I guess that is another post for another day though.
It amazes me how much someone can smell when he or she doesn’t shower regularly. Bending down to pour lemon-aide in Love Park, the odors and smells are sometimes unbearable. I can only imagine what it would be like to live in that environment everyday. It is just another reason I should be thankful for what I have – including soap, shampoo, and a warm shower to wash myself in. I also have more clothes that I know what to do with sitting in drawers that have not been warn in several weeks but await to be worn. It seems that I often find myself staring at my feet as if the answers to all of their needs are found on my shoes. After handing out about 27 cups of lemon-aide, I had to get up and stretch my legs. The smell was also getting to me and I was in need of smelling something else than the smells of a homeless person. I got up and looked around, seeing many of those we had just served going through their lunches and eating bananas and sandwiches.
Since I had spilled coffee earlier that night all over me in one of the driver’s cars, I went across the street to get a new cup with a lid. On my way over, there was a man who looked asleep until I got close enough for him to ask for money. Looking around, there were other people watching me. I figured they were going to either ask for money as well or tell me to go about my business. I bothered me that they stared at me. I went in and grabbed a nice cup of coffee – 2 sugars and 3 servings of cream packets. On my way out the door, the guy that had tried so hard to get money from me was nowhere to be found. I guess he had something more important to do.
When I went back, I saw a woman named Mary. She was wearing a black head covering that acted as a hat of some form, a black and gold dress that was dingy and dirty. As I looked down at her feet, she only had a pair of think tan socks. Eating a sandwich one of our group members bought for her, she look visibly cold and tired. She would be spending the night in the subway against the wall in attempts to say warm. As she left she gave me a big hug and walked on her way.
As we were lining up to pray, a very drunk man came over to us and began to yell at us. He told us that we really didn’t care about the homeless because we didn’t invite them into our homes. Seeing as a confrontation was about to begin, I stepped over and told him that we loved people. He just walked around and starting cursing at us. It was quite a shock. With that, we asked him if he would like to pray with us. He just looked at us and opened his arms, signaling that he was ready to pray. Before anyone could say a word, he started off his prayer. I can’t quote the whole thing but he basically said, “God created everything – even us freaking humans (at which point I began to laugh) – and that Jesus came down to help us.” With that, as soon as he took a breath, I began to pray from his last point and ended the prayer. With that, he walked around with his chest out and proud, telling us that no one can stop him. One by one, we gathered our stuff and began to walk back to our cars. As I was leaving, he stopped me and told me that we were not needed in Philadelphia to serve the homeless because we really didn’t care. I simply put my hand on his shoulder and told him that I would pray for him and I left. As I was leaving, I could hear him yelling and cursing about us. Driving home, I thought about this man who was so angry. Maybe he was just having a bad day. I could tell from the scar on his check that he had been in a knife fight with someone. And, though I wasn’t there when it happened, I can only assume that it was due to a drunken confrontation. Though I should never be surprised by what we see in the city, I can only laugh. We never have a dull time there. I can’t wait to go back. I hope he is there and that he remembers us.