Monday, January 11, 2010

Word on the Street

Barbwire Pole
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
To paraphrase their own words, here are a few anecdotes from some of our sisters and brother on the street:

* When you live on the streets, you might have to stay in the closet—and I don’t mean the kind where you hang coats. If you thought it wasn’t safe to be me in your neighborhood, imagine being me in mine…

* When I went into prison, they had just come out with the very first Atari video game system—you know the one with one button on the control where you play paddle-ball? When I got out, I saw these machines you can put 1,000 songs onto—1,000 songs of music in something no bigger than a pack of dental floss. I don’t know where I am anymore…

* When you live on the streets, you know where to collect cans and which day-labor businesses are still hiring. You know when the social worker is gonna have hours at which shelter, you know who you can trust to watch your bag for a few minutes if you need to step out for a minute…and you might know how ride box car train without a ticket or how to start a fire with just trash…

* When I was in Alabama last year, I used to get my coffee and this gas station on the corner. The woman in there talked to me, used to ask me about my life. She and her husband gave me this coat, this one right here, and told me to come on back for Christmas if I wanted…I wonder if they meant it? Wonder if I could still make it down there if I left today?

* When you live on the streets, you know you can’t stop working just cause your back hurts so much you can hardly see what your doing through your tears; you know you can’t loose what little work you have. You also know you’ll last about 10 minutes in the mall before the security officer asks you to leave; what you might not know is how they can always tell you don’t belong there, even when your cloths look like everybody else’s….When you live on the streets, you know where you are wanted and where you’re not…

* When I get off these streets I’m gonna get a recording studio in my house, I’m gonna get one of those keyboards with a mixer and a bunch a instruments and make as much as noise as I can…I’m gonna bang around the house with pots and pans and make a god-aweful racket…that’ll be my house.

By Adam, who has been working with and amongst our homeless friends this year and who has blessed us on Sunday mornings the last few months with his "Word on the Street" reflections.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Prayer of Off-Guard Joy

Mother and child
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I saw you today, God.

As an elderly lady walked through my
Urban neighborhood
She tripped and fell
Spilling the contents of her purse.

From nowhere, a thug appeared -
Hoodie hiding his face
Prison tattoos scarring his knuckles
Pants sagging nearly to his knees

He quickly reached down and grabbed her purse and...

...and gently assisted her to her feet, returning her purse and
Tenderly wiping the dust from her clothes and
Tending to her as if she were his own grandmother
As if she were the Daughter of God
As if he were the Son of God.

Thank you God, for
Sudden moments of off-guard joy and
Gentle rebukes from
Unknown and intimidating saints.