Part 5: “Shadows and Echoes”
(Author’s note: Time Jump. It’s now two weeks since moving out of the Motel 6 and into a home. In the previous 3 segments I found myself ‘effectively homeless’).
Everything shouldn’t feel okay. In fact, I should be far from okay. I spent the last 10 years working with people who were homeless from New York City to Los Angeles and points in between. It wasn’t enough to work with them. It wasn’t enough to ‘say hello’. It wasn’t enough to interview the homeless, take in the homeless, walk among them in the camps, or even serve them each year during ‘Gobble Gobble Give’, efforts by the City of Santa Monica thanks to a great referral from then-city council-member now-California-Assemblyman Richard Bloom, and the Ocean Park Community Center. I had to become one. I had to walk into the darkness.
I believe sometimes you have to go to the dark places. I believe you need to experience them, talk about them, exist in them, and not dismiss them with a fuzzy glow or positive words. Embrace and declare scripture? Yes. Rebuke your situation with it? Not always. Because if you don’t walk through the darkness and spend time in it, you don’t value the light. I think in the darkness you learn a lot about the light, why you need the light, and ultimately the power of God’s redemption.
So, sitting in my home now, everything feels okay now. It’s been two weeks. But it shouldn’t be okay. It should be far from okay. There are hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or more homeless people in the country. Here in the city of Nashville alone there are a record number of first-time homeless due to increase rent, out-of-state investors turning homes into investment portfolio pieces, and I’m sitting in my cozy renovated home wondering what happened to who I was for 5 weeks. I feel a sense of loss. I feel a sense of grief. I wish I could share it with people in my church. I find I am having to rediscover that this is my life, here in my home, not the 5 weeks I just experienced.
It’s hard to explain but I have some basic understanding that this has been one of the most profound experiences in my life and has changed me irrevocably. There are larger implications of how this will continue to screw with me. It completely upended my life and forced a change going forward. I don’t completely understand it all yet.
Most people in my church don’t understand. Why should they? How could they? I don’t understand myself. Not completely. In fact, I’m not sure I ever will. Part of me wonders what happened to that person I was for 5 weeks. I was alone. In a way I still am. I am that person. And I am me. That person lives in me
I’ve spent what I consider lifetimes fighting for what I believe in. I will spend many more lifetimes fighting for people, ideals, and justice.
So, I close with a reprisal of the call from Part II.
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” – For me it is who I am, and who I will always be. It is by the principles of this scripture that I live. And by them, I will most certainly die.
“Part 5 is so true ! Now you understand the truth of being homeless ! We are invisible but only God truly sees us , because it’s our hearts he see and he is the only one who listens ! Remember , Jesus was homeless too ! Be Blessed my brother in Christ” – Kimberly Gonzalez, “The Working Homeless“