Over the past ten years, I've been on many types of street retreats. Some have been chronicled in my blogs here.
In previous years on retreat I spent a whole week in the shelter line, to highlight the lack of space, I've stayed in the youth shelter twice and at an adult women's shelter and experienced the disorientation, fear and trauma of that experience and I've always eat at the meal programs around town with the homeless and hungry.
As I journey through my street retreats, I never lie about who I am about my economic or professional status. I fill out all surveys and shelter access information with my real information and I leave the decision of whether or not to admit me or if I have more or less need than others to the agencies I'm visiting.
I do not go on the streets to pretend I'm homeless.
I go on the streets to experience in my bones some of the feelings and experiences of life on the streets and in the services for homeless individuals. But, I fully acknowledge that I have access to resources and privilege that others do not.
I retreat to the streets by a choice others don't always get to make.
I retreat to the street before my bridges have all been burned down and people are often more generous to me than they might be to others who are even more vulnerable than I am. As someone who is always giving so much, my work on these streets is to learn to be better at receiving.
So I beg for all I need. And if people give me the funds or offer it to me, nothing is off limits. But, I continue to follow the ethics that guide me as a pastor and minister to anyone who asks.
I retreat to the streets to educate you and other readers about homelessness and hunger, particularly during this time that our nation is focusing on the election, poverty in other countries or responding to natural disasters.
People care more about issues when it affects someone they love. Often I'm told that people worry about all the homeless more while I'm on the streets.
I'm making good choices, am highly trained and have a large support network. but, i will not try to lull your fears and I hope you will worry about me and all of my actually homeless brothers and sisters who need your support.
I retreat to the streets because I want to beg so others don't have to. I have a goal of raising $3,000 for Welcome by sleeping on the streets. Your support the homeless and hungry every day of the year and to expand our work around the country. Because our donations are down this year, your support or lack for this street retreat, will help determine if I get my real pay check in December.
I am one of the countless Americans who is one paycheck away from homelessness. This retreat, I'm particularly interested in sharing the stories of this I meet who have fallen to the other side of that crack.
I retreat to the streets because Jesus told us he would be found there and each time I eat a meal with the homeless, I'll be sharing a meal with him.
This year, my partner Alisa and my two month old son Graham will also be joining me on the streets. We will be staying at the Faithful Fools Street Ministry and following the rules of the local family shelters. You can bet that my desire to be safe will increase when my family joins me. I'm particularly interested in learning more about the struggles of families who are homeless this week.
I hope that you'll follow my blog each ay to see what I've learned. And please, if you are able, make a secure online donation to Welcome, or participate in our reverse auction.
Tonight, I pray for all who are living on the streets, that they find shelter, food and support for their journey. On this scorching San Francisco day, I pray that it doesn't aggravate violence or health problems. May all children have enough to eat and ready hands to attend to soiled diapers and calls for cuddles.
May you have all you need and the courage to be your fullest self everyday.
And to everyone who wonders where they will get their daily bread, how they will pay their bills or get out from under piles of debt, I pray we'll all find jubilee.
Thanks for paying attention....
I'll talk to you again tomorrow!
P.S. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to provide me with food, beverages or a meal companion at any point on my journey.