Once my own living situation ultimately transformed into unsheltered destitute, I began the exhaustive search for any manner of temporary sanctuary. The seemingly endless quest finally led me here to this city at the beginning of the Holiday Season. At the time I was so preoccupied with my own angst and anxiety I failed to notice any of the happenings taking place around me. But with the healing powers of meditation and a tiny dose of patience, my metamorphosis from frightened transient to worldly traveler spawned a newly acquired resolve that began to cascade over my psyche affording me a moment to breathe and look up at the proceedings.
What I witnessed from my newly acquired vantage point can only be described as surreal, because something that bore a striking resemblance to kindness and dare I say compassion had descended upon the city like a tidal wave from the wherever and spread like a tsunami across the homeless landscape. The walls that usually separate the us from the them suddenly fell of their own accord and hands baring gifts reached across the divide to provide much needed offerings to those who only days ago slog through life’s misgivings without hope or even a prayer of emotional solace…hands were actually shook, hugs were genuine embraces, kisses were heartfelt, life stories were heard judgement free, thoughts and ideas of lasting prosperity were shared, even myself, the ever vigilant social nonconformist was swept away by the love being demonstrated to any and all present. It was as if the idea of homelessness was truly an unimaginable nightmare and this season where equal footing and mutual respect lived was this city’s true reality.
Then the calendar turned…and it all stopped. Like nefarious actions at a raucous New Year’s Eve Party being hopefully forgotten, gone was the love, affection and most of the evidence that good tidings had ever been dispensed to the indigent members of the cities populous. No longer were the homeless sympathetic human beings deserving of a helping hand and a place to stay. Now the homeless were simply pathetic figures in need of disposal, urban blight on the oft mentioned idea of beautification, a nemesis to a city councils plans of gentrification and renewal…What changed?
That question of what changed takes on a contrasting interpersonal significance as it echoes through the valley of the homeless community. Inwardly, we might ask ourselves what changed in me? How am I different? Outwardly, the question is a bit more prolonged. We ask what changed in “you”? What did you see in me then that you don’t see now? And why can’t you see it again? Are those feelings of compassion that were so unabashedly bestowed upon us during the holidays literally stashed away in some public storage mentality behind a locked heart with a sign reading “Don’t Open Til Christmas”?
I’ll part with this…I believe that I speak for most of the homeless community when I say “Thank you” from the bottom of our intertwined hearts for all the gifts, food and good wishes that came our way during that seemingly ever so brief holiday season with the loftiest of hopes that one day in our lifetime that storage facility in which your love stored will stay open year round.
A Voice From the Streets
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