Last night we had so much more cardboard than we needed to gather for our beds. In case you didn't know, the cardboard serves a two-fold purpose. First, it cuts the chill of the concrete, which sucks the heat out of your body. This thin layer of discarded trash can mean the literal difference between waking up alive or dead. Second, the cardboard makes the bed a little bit softer.
In fact, when I was on street retreat for two weeks living with the poor in Nicaragua card board on a bed frame was my mattress. Last night, because we had such an abundance, I got to sleep with two-ply. Like toilet paper, the extra layer makes a difference. Last night I only had to turn over twice because half my body had gone numb.
A better nights sleep lead to a much better morning. However, I have now arrived at one of the most sacred reasons that I embark on these street retreats. I am now emotionally raw. And sitting here in the Starbucks enjoying my favorite comfort food, a soy hot chocolate, I feel myself at the verge of tears. The exhaustion in my body and mind from being in survival mode for six days in a row has caught up with me.
Yet, unlike my normal need to function with very little wavering of feeling in order to balance the manic and erratic feelings of the chronically homeless I work with each day, today I get to have feelings. I get to feel the vulnerability of being a small hungry fish in a large pond full of hungry fish.
So, today I don't take things for granted. I get angry easily over injustice. I embrace the powerful moments and the roll in my belly with a sense of the sacred living around and in me.
One of the most moving moments of my day was when I was sitting with the Larkin youth (predominately homeless queer kids kicked out of their homes for being queer) as they spoke with a screaming queen from the Compton Riots and learned about the history of poor queers demanding their rights and to be treated with dignity I was hit with an overwhelming sense of call. An overwhelming sense that these moments were exactly what I was put on earth to do.
These are all thoughts I've had before in my head. But today, I'm enjoying the rawness of the streets, that brought me to a safe raw space to feel a bit mystical.
My prayers tonight are for all that live in the world feeling raw in an unsafe way, for compassion on safety for anyone considering ending their life (it gets better I promise), for those who live with domestic abuse with no way out, for those who feel covered in the fog of unending depression and for all that have forgotten what hope feels like.
I pray even more deeply that all may have the sense that they are mystical, that God is with them, for them and working through them. And if the idea of God creeps you out a bit, I hope for you a sense of purpose and peace.
Blessings upon blessings,