This year, as I have done in years past, I will be living on the streets for seven days and seven nights with members of the Faithful Fools. Why would I want to go and sleep on the streets with the homeless, when I have a condo a few blocks away and a very comfy bed? Well, like the group I am going out with, it’s a bit about faith and a bit about being foolish.
In the first chapter of Corinthians, Paul declares that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of humans. It could be said that Jesus’ commitment to the poor (especially in the Gospel of Luke), his eating with the tax collectors and sex workers and his own life as a homeless nomad, was/is as foolish as it was/is faithful.
Some would also say that it takes a strange mix of foolish and faithful to continue to long for the day when pain and suffering ends and all people are able to eat together at one banquet table. Yet, I/we continue to work diligently for an end to poverty and hunger.
How can living on the streets possibly make a difference? While I cannot truly know what it feels like to live on the streets, since I know I have a warm bed and an adorable cat to come home to, I do find that living on the streets helps me to gain a deeper bodily empathy for the homeless and hungry that I am in ministry with. Also, in utilizing the services that I often refer the homeless too, I get a chance to learn about the changes in other social service agencies.
But more importantly, I get a chance to be vulnerable. As a leader in the church, I spend a lot of my time creating safe space for others to be vulnerable, to grow and to deeply engage with God. Living on the streets is a way for me to intentionally strip away the comforts of my life and get to what is real. That is what the Lenten journey is about after all; stripping away the many layers of things that have distracted us so that we can re-orient our lives towards God.
So, please join me on my journey. Don’t worry; you don’t have to sleep on the cold hard concrete with me. Please send me your prayers through email or the postal mail that I can take with me on my retreat, so that I can take you with me and pray for you. Please pray for me March 10-17th while I am sleeping on the sidewalk and read my daily blog reflections. And if you are blessed not to know anyone who is homeless, perhaps you will get to know how it feels to know that someone you care about is homeless. Thanks for taking this Lenten journey with me.
P.S. On my street retreat we follow the model of Bernie Glassman in Bearing Witness. The book chronicles Glassman’s experiences on retreats on the streets of
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