I keep emphasizing the humanness of people who live without permanent shelter. The more I interact with them, the more their humanness blossoms in my awareness. These are people who struggle with their emotions enough that it interferes in maintaining their housing. Our culture has a perspective which I admit to finding strange. The perspective says, ‘keep your emotions to yourself, bottle them up (which is unhealthy!), and if you must express them, do it in the privacy of your own home.’ That, of course, presumes that you have a home. Even in your own home, you may feel like the only really safe place to feel emotions is locked in the bathroom!
What will it take for our culture to change? What will it take to adjust to a healthier lifestyle, acknowledging sadness and vulnerability, enabling us to move through it more efficiently? Will this change coincide with an ability to love our world enough to correct our climate?
The other day I visited The White bird Crisis Center. I like to go by there a couple of times a week to bring surplus food to share. I left a bunch of apples. Other days I have taken pears, soup, granola bars, and other food to share. I marvel over how appreciative they are. One woman told me, “there’s so much malnutrition out here.” Everyone deserves to eat. No one should go hungry when there is abundance falling off trees, spoiling on the ground.
Before I left White Bird, I saw a woman in the alley bent over, her hands covering her face, her hair draping in front of her hands, shaking. I couldn’t just get in my car and drive away. Turning the car off, I got out and walked over to her. “Ma’am, would you like a hug?” I didn’t get an answer. Placing one hand on her back, I leaned in a little closer, “no one should have to cry without being held.” Nonverbally, she accepted my hug, leaning into me, shaking with her grief. A male friend stood nearby. “Could you go get her some tissues from inside?” I asked him. He seemed to be waiting for someone to tell him what to do, immediately heading inside while she continued shaking and crying on my shoulder.
Eventually, she leaned back. I brushed her hair out of her face and she smiled. “Thank you,” she said. I looked down then and saw an old penny with wheat on it. “Look,” I told her picking it up and placing it in her hand, “that’s good luck!” Then, I saw another one a little to my left. Picking it up, I placed it in her hand next to the first one. “Two pennies are beyond lucky,” I told her. Then I saw the third penny. I picked it up, placing it in a line on her palm. “Three pennies in a row,” I told her, touching each one in turn, “that’s magic!” I told them there were apples on the banister at White Bird if they were hungry and I went to work.
I knew I was doing the right thing. Those three pennies confirmed that the spirit world was validating my actions.