For many years I have worked with homeless people in a variety of scenarios. Homelessness is a real concern for me, for countless reasons. And I also think to myself we could all be one small step away from being in that situation. Yesterday was a very strong reminder of that one small step.
I had a small gathering at my house at the beginning of the week and I found myself with leftover pizza. I decided to drive into the city and offer the pizza to a homeless person I saw on the street, but I also wanted to sit and talk with the person and share a meal with him or her. So I drove to a street where I often see homeless people sitting on grates or wandering around. Sure enough, there was a gentleman sitting by himself under a bridge.
I approached him with the pizza. He was so excited to accept it. That alone made my heart dance, but here is where the real joy came for me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to ask to share the pizza with him . . . .I didn’t want to give him something and then take some of it back for myself. As soon as he accepted the box, HE asked ME if I would like to share the pizza with him!! My heart danced a little more!! (Talk about being right where we should be at any given time . . . check out yesterday’s post 🙂 )
So I very happily sat on the curb with “John” and shared some pizza. We introduced ourselves to each other, talked about the weather, and then he said to me, “So I guess you’re wondering how I got here.” I looked at him and said, “I’m just happy to be sharing this pizza with you right now, but if you want to share how you got here, I will be happy to listen.” And he shared.
John is an educated man. He went all through school, earned his degree at a local university, met the love of his life after college, married, and had a child. He hit bumps in the road along the way and eventually one day found himself out on the street, with nowhere to go. That spot under the bridge has been his “home” for almost five years now.
So many thoughts were racing through my mind at this point. This man didn’t have a family member, a friend, a former co-worker, anyone to give him some sort of helping hand? The concept of reconciling with those on your path along the way. And yourself. How would he ever break this cycle of homelessness if he couldn’t somehow obtain a home address? How do you find purpose in your life when so much has gone so wrong and you don’t see a way out? And the thoughts just kept pouring through my head . . . .
I can’t stop thinking about John. And what do I do when I feel like I’ve hit absolute bottom and there is no way out? I don’t know if I’ve hit absolute bottom in my lifetime. I certainly have hit bottom . . . .but absolute bottom? I have a very strong faith (thank God!) but what if you don’t? Where do you find that glimmer of hope?