Effectively Homeless Part 4: “Adrift”
I was and still am apparently…alone.
In fact, being alone is how I went from who I was to who I am now. They say you should sow what you want to reap. Be the friend you need. I’ve spent over a decade serving my community, serving my church, both on and off-the-grid. I remember dropping travel plans at a moment’s notice and jumping in the car for 4-8 hours to answer-the-call as it were. We don’t give to get nor serve to be served but I was still perplexed a few months ago, when it was spring time. I have stood by my church in good times and bad. I have stood by my movement for over 16 years.
Back in the spring I had about a day or two to clean up a crawlspace under my new home. Work crews would not come until it was cleaned out. I asked for help. I asked many in my church, truly I did. One person who could not come donated and another checked in to see if I was okay. But no one came. I even posted my address, but no one came. Even as I worked under the crawlspace I hoped someone would come at any moment. I had never felt more alone. I knew what had to happen under that crawl space. So, I went from corner to corner, side to side, end to end, on my belly on a tarp with a rake and cleaned it out. I only had a few things on my mind.
The whole time on my mind I thought of the one family from my church that reached out to see if I was okay and of God. It was a moment of a process, I would later understand. When it was time to move my belongings into storage or lose them all, only two people from my church came. When it came to move everything out of storage and into my new home, I asked many to help from my church. Only one came. We worked for ten hours with one 15 minute break. It didn’t have to be that way. I am grateful for that help and a donation I received. But it didn’t have to be that way. My church likes to say, “We are Family”. Where were they?
Going through this process of being ‘effectively homeless’ I tried to explain to people what it was like. But in my own church I felt I was dismissed. I wasn’t looking for sympathy. I was answering people’s questions when they asked, ‘how are you doing’? I don’t think most people wanted the real answer. Is it because they want to only hear positive things? Is it because they believe my answer is too negative to allow God to work? Or is it because they were uncomfortably close to where I found myself? I don’t know.
I tried to tell my story. But it went largely unheard. I even put this on a response card, “does anyone read these? Anyone, anyone? Bueller, Buller…”? and no one called, emailed, or texted. “Are We Family?” would have been my cry. 4 weeks of putting “#effectivelyhomeless” on my response card yielded not a call. I never felt so alone. How can we ‘reach a city to touch the world’ and miss the people standing right in front of you?
Was I thankful for the financial support I received for the Motel 6? Absolutely. I raised more in a month from folks than many on missions raise in a year. I am thankful for the many who gave and sacrificed. But this is not about that. It didn’t make up for being alone. I not only asked for help with my crawlspace for the sake of help but to allow other people into my world, to get to know me, to labor together and form bonds & friendships. None of that happened that day. What I would have given. Just one phone call, just one coffee, just one…anything.
I’d have given all the donations back simply for someone to walk with me through this that hadn’t walked with me through things before. Was it a time for me to draw close to God in the absence of man? Absolutely. But I’d been alone for months. There wasn’t anyone else to draw close to BUT God. I wondered if even God was saying, “You again, really?! Isn’t’ there anyone in the sandbox to play with? I created a whole world and filled it with people. I flooded it once and there are still people. Go find some!”. One emerged however…
One dark night however my best friend from high school responded to a Facebook message. I hadn’t really dialogued with her in nearly 20 years. I don’t know that I’d be able to explain to my 18-year-old self who I would become or be seen as over these lifetimes I’d experienced let alone explain to her the journey. But it wasn’t. It was as if she was still riding in seat beside me in my 1990 Honda Civic. For a moment, I was 17 years old again and smiling once more. A look back to yesterday before the sun would come up on many more tomorrows. So many lifetimes yet to live.
Concluded in Part 5: Shadows and Echoes
For previous segments:
“Part 4 is really good , it is like being alone , like no existing !” – Kimberly Gonzalez, “We are the Working Homeless”
A worthwhile watch: The New Twilight Zone: To See the Invisible Man