“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” ~ Mother Teresa, nun, peaceful missionary & worldwide civil servant
What a day. What a physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting, yet magically fulfilling and hope-inspiring day. As I type before heading to sleep, the glistening spotlight in my mind still shines on the few hours spent sharing infectious laughter, thought-provoking conversation, and heart-wrenching tear-filled stories with some hundred people or so this late morning. Know that I write this not to showcase my meager charitable efforts, but to share a monumental a-ha in my own mind.
If I could have watched from afar I would have witnessed myself as an outsider literally melting into a crowd; the steadfast and stoic force field dissolving to morph complete strangers into a simple crowd of God’s children. Another trip to a shelter…like a myriad others… where the ultimate goals for its countless, seemingly nameless patrons are never met…and perhaps never will be. “End homelessness” is still the proud banner on the building’s marquis, but most who gather show signs of no end in sight. Just as the “haves” toe the precarious line of accepting the homeless situation as a problem that just cannot be solved, the “have-nots” stand in mirror reflection. I know that even if I visited their grounds every single day with food, clothing, and opportunity for shelter …not even a dent would be made. For the real problem isn’t lack of these wish-list items. The real problem is buried deep within the souls of the homeless. No matter what choices they have made to land them in their current collective circumstances, the destruction and rubble lay heavy in their body, minds and spirits. They live under the weight of overpowering feelings of being unwanted, unloved, uncared, insignificant, incapable, unworthy, unequal, and inhuman, and they wear a badge of hopelessness. No obligatory holiday drive or food drop-off will ever remedy their pain, let alone stop the perpetuation of thousands more joining their disheveled, disjointed crowds. Indeed, I believe many who fall into the demise of homelessness and succumb to its evil accompanying activities can choose to change their habits and perhaps become the very light at the end of their tunnels.
But society has a responsibility as well. As individuals we are each specially gifted to help, and perhaps a resolution lies in truly owning up to the impact we can have on future generations. We have the opportunity each and every day to turn strangers into peers through words and actions that spread nothing but love and compassion. After all, you never know, the person who stands inches from you might be just inches from one last choice that would lead to their own homelessness. And what if the right word or action from you were to create a miraculous intervention?
Perhaps we cannot end homelessness in our own lifetimes, folks. But I’m willing to bet that if we all worked on ending hopelessness, the problem might fix itself.
Copyright by Kimberlie Dykeman.
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