I found myself “on the street” 2 months ago. How I got there is similar to many stories…no job, lost home, family members who just couldn’t understand (“if you don’t have a job, then you’re not really trying”). It finally came to a point that it appeared that I had no other options…I was going to live on the streets and I just simply had to accept it. In the end, I only spent 3 days there because a dear friend from church sent out a global email that shared my situation and it was her compassionate and loving words that opened their hearts..and doors…literally. A generous couple stepped forward and courageously offered to let me house-sit their home for a period of time, which has allowed me to spiritually and emotionally heal.
I disclose that information only in order that you might understand what I want to share and why. During the month prior to my street experience, I started to feel ‘invisible’ and unneeded…as if I had become irrelevant to the world. People started to “look through me” and tried to avoid me. I suspected it was because they felt I would ask them for help (although I never spoke of it or asked for anything). People stopped talking to me or engaging me in conversation. Because of an economy that was brought about by Greed, I had become a ‘Ghost’ in my own life. And it wasn’t until my friend stood up and hugged that ‘Ghost’ part out of me that I began to feel real again and a necessary part of the world.
Reflecting back, I see that we all need acknowledgment…affection…and to be needed. Just being homeless doesn’t mean a person has ‘disappeared’ and is no longer a part of us…of our Community. And yet, that’s what happens. Why? Well, one reason could be because we’re afraid it could be us…that we too could be ‘forgotten’. But mostly, I feel it’s because we’re unsure how we can help. People are good-hearted and will usually help, if they know how and what they can do. So, let me share what I do when I see a brother or sister who is obviously homeless, I make a point of going up to them, shaking their hand and introducing myself. And then, I just shoot the breeze. I might remark how hot it’s been or how I wish I had air conditioning in my truck. I might wonder out loud if Fall was ever going to come. If they feel comfortable with me, I might tell a joke. I simply chat with them about those common things that we all might speak of when we get together. I don’t offer them money but I might ask how things are going. Instead of feeling pity for them, I honor and acknowledge their presence as an equal. I treat them with the same respect I would treat anyone.
For I remember, and can never forget, that many of them…families included…are there not because they ‘chose’ to live that way but because of somebody else’s Greed. And because no one in their lives could…or would…help them. By simply chatting with them as I would a neighbor, I am “reclaiming” that person back from that “Ghost” world of living on the street and starting them on the road back into our Community. It takes time, and healing, to come back into the World from that place of being “Unseen” but it’s worth it to keep trying. For me, our Street Relatives are the ‘best’ part of us…drawing our attention to that part within all of us that wants to be loved, needed and cherished.