Sunday, November 11, 2012
"Lost And Homeless Hearts"
The last time I checked there were some 2 million homeless people in America, some 600,000 of them veterans. Some of them are drug addicts, some alcoholics, some suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from which they've never recovered. Tragically, many of the homeless today are none of those...they simply got caught up in the housing collapse and lost their homes.
Thousands of families today are living out of their cars. Many make their home on park benches or freeway underpasses, those lucky enough to have a space in a shelter are often shuffled out in the morning to make do for themselves, then wander back to the shelter in the evening, hoping to claim a hot meal and a bed.
If you have a home, no matter how small, no matter how old, no matter how modest, you are truly blessed. You can't imagine the time a homeless person dedicates to each day just to survive.
Some homeless folks are "gamers", they play upon the tender hearts of folks to grab a dollar or two, just to support their drug or drinking habit. They are victims of society as well as themselves. Some have self esteem so low that they could never again contemplate the idea of re-joining mainstream society.
But probably many more are just lost and can find no way to climb out from the depths to which they have descended. It is these that I pray for the most. It is these that we most need to help.
If you have a home, and have never been homeless you cannot imagine the time a homeless person spends each day just trying to get a meal, to find a bathroom when needed, to find somewhere to clean yourself up.
I knew a homeless fellow once. He wasn't a bad guy; he just took one of those wrong paths in life and strayed too far from the "right". He had known poverty before but had never been totally homeless. But now he was.
Fortunately he was homeless in San Diego where the weather is pretty mild. This guy slept in his car in a beach side park. He would awake in the morning hungry and without money for breakfast. He ended up going though the morning trash cans throughout the park, gather all the aluminum cans he could find, then walk across the road to a Von's Supermarket and push the cans into a re-cycling machine and earn enough for a one dollar Breakfast Jack at the nearest fast food joint.
So, after spending a good couple of hours just to manage breakfast he would go back to the park, spread a blanket under a tree and nap again, waiting for it to warm up enough for him to clean himself up at one of those outdoor beach showers. He shaved and brushed his teeth in front of one of those metal mirrors in the park restroom, trying to avoid the looks the beach goers gave him as he tried to keep looking presentable.
The fellow had such low self esteem he rarely talked to anyone, always on his guard against every danger that exists when you're out there naked to the world, without the protection and security of "home". He found he could never bring himself to "beg" for spare change as others did. He was just a homeless person that was lost and could not find his way out.
But, as God often does when the lost wish to be "found", the fellow was saved. After submitting hundreds of resumes for work, a good job turned up out of the blue. He worked hard at his new job and very soon an even better one came along that, at last, got him back to a life of respectability and security.
Once "found", this once homeless fellow, from then on, always sought solid ground. Having lived for a time on the razor's edge of life and loss, he became about as timid and cautious as one can imagine. I'm happy to say the fellow is fine now. He's re-united with family and the family of men, but is always aware of how quickly all that one has can be lost.
So, let's pray for the "lost" who, when you look in their eyes, still reflect that spark of humanity that cries out for rescue, whose heart has a yearning need to re-join the human race.
There but for the Grace of God go you and I. Be thankful in this season of Thanksgiving for what you have and try not to be too hard on those who have lost their way. Sometimes, just one blessing from God is all they need to be found again.