How many of you think about the growing number of people without permanent homes? During one of my many trips to a local coop store, Grower’s Market, I discovered that there was a regular camp behind Grower’s, with a pretty consistent camper, P. He is there most of the time and sometimes has a friend with him. I talk to him pretty regularly now and have found him to be a friendly, pleasant person.
During our chats, when I often bring him water, cheese, bread, and a banana or some combination of food stuff, he has shared with me his story. He explained that he was divorced about five years ago and hasn’t had a permanent home since. He hasn’t shared with me his personal issues, those things that added to the situation, and have prevented him from reacquiring permanent shelter. He did share that he doesn’t like to go the group help centers, like the Mission, or the Egan Warming Centers because of the chaos and the human conflicts.
So, I’ve made a regular habit of sharing. When I go shopping each week, I get something for him too. Sometimes I bring him some of our home cooked meal, hot food to heat him up from the inside out. But at the very least, I get him something. Sometimes I’ll give him money to wash and dry his sleeping bag/blankets. ‘They get moldy,’ he explained, ‘from getting wet.’ ‘They won’t let me just come in and dry them at the laundro-mat.’ It’s hard for him to find enough money to wash and dry them.
Picking one person to help can be a way of taking on small bites at a time to help people in need. Open your eyes and your heart to find someone who needs help and choose a way to help them that feels comfortable for you. Most spiritual institutions talk about helping others as a way to feel closer to God, if you believe in that. Most people recognize that helping someone helps us feel better about ourselves.
As we move through the journey of life, learning how to grow emotionally and spiritually, we begin to figure out tools to help ourselves feel good, good about ourselves, good about the world. Focusing on what we can do to make the world a better place can help us feel good as well as focusing on the beauty that already exists in our world. Discovering the friendly nature of those people who live without permanent shelter is one of those beautiful things!
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