Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Day four- October 21: Hunger and thirst for righteousness.
St. Francis Lutheran decided they would rather call me a missionary to the homeless in San Francisco than a pastor. Missionary sounds more like someone who is living with those they serve, seeking to work together for solutions. It also sounds like a missionary exists only until there are no more homeless.
I like to believe that this week on the streets is a part of my missionary work, part of listening for solutions to homelessness and being with rather than for.
I hunger and thirst for righteousness. These words have taken on a new meaning this week. There is the longing and unknowing about where my next meal with come from. There is the witnessing of unimaginable injustices. There is the weight that my call is to be the voice with and for those I sleep and eat with on this journey. And there is the sense in my mind that others are awake to homelessness in a new way because I am here on the streets.
So many have become numb to the homeless. As if we have to stop seeing them because it is too painful to admit what kind of society/humans we really are. We are letting our grandmothers sleep on the streets. We kick them out at 11pm telling them there are no shelter beds, only to learn later that there were empty beds in all the shelters that night (Ramu's shelter had four empty beds that night).
We are a society that crams hundreds of hunger souls into a dingy church basement. We are a society that is more focused on our own need for an iPhone (this is of course how I am able to blog and take photos on the street) when the Welcome Ministry's entire food budget for the year to feed more than 5,000 meals is the cost of 2 iPhones.
We are a society that expects hungry, tired, homeless people to sit still and behave so they can have a few crumbs during and after the service, only enough food to remind you that your hungry.
Jesus said "just as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me." (Matthew 25:40). So, I am on these streets to un-numb you. Perhaps you are thinking about the homeless in a new way. Perhaps you notice them for the first time in years, or see them for the first time through my photos.
I'm not trying to make you feel bad or to shame you, but to remind us all, to remind myself, that we can do so much better than this!
Today I learned unexpected lessons:
Why men are always adjusting themselves;
Why I would make surgery a top priority if I had to constantly bind and pack;
How to incorporate potstickers into a soup;
How to get free curry every Tuesday night;
The joy of an unexpectd cost from a loved one;
How volunteering can be a small haven for control, freedom and joy;
How a simple soy hot chocolate can make your whole day...
Okay I've known the last one for a while now.
I also learned how no matter how long you sleep, that if it's on concrete you'll be consistently tired.
Tonight I calibrate the small joys, time for dancing, laughing and how quickly joy can turn to weeping and gnashing of teeth... Then back to joy with a wine and chip party in front of the church.