I was at a dinner party and we started talking about the BEDS program. This is a program that provides a meal and a bed to homeless people one night a week or month depending on the location. We have this program in our town and this has been a hot topic since it was first introduced. Some people are worried that the homeless people will end up loitering in the streets and it will be dangerous for our children. Some topics bring up more questions than answers and this is one of them.
If there are no homeless people in your town, does it make sense to invite them into the town for a meal and a place to sleep? Can this be regulated in a way that keeps everyone safe? Why do we feel unsafe? What are we afraid of?
Are our learned minds so conditioned to reject anyone that is different that we don’t see all that we have in common?
How do we see Christ in everyone? Is it naïve to believe we can make a difference?
Can you imagine the rejection the homeless feel every day? Can you imagine the fear and the loneliness that defines their existence? Have you ever been desperate?
Who told you to fear the homeless? Who told you to avert your eyes? Who was your example of how to treat the less fortunate? Who is watching you and learning from you as to how to treat a person begging in the street?
Have you ever been forgotten? Have you ever been alone? Have you ever been afraid?
The most human thing we can do for another is to have a connection. To smile, look in their eyes… to see them. How can I gain the courage to reach out to a person I’m afraid of? Why am I afraid?
Should I work in a shelter? Should I take my kids to work in a shelter? What’s my responsibility for teaching acceptance and love to my children? Is writing a check enough? Is giving money really helping? Where’s the money going? How can I help?
Am I a bad person for being afraid? Am I judging others for being afraid? Am I a hypocrite?
If we come from nothing and truly don’t own anything, if the way to access God is to let go of things, to empty the mind, to meet Him in the silence, then aren’t the homeless closer to that than us? Have we become so defined by our possessions, so limited by our fears, so entwined with our labels, so boxed in by our beliefs that we cannot get to our core? Are we afraid to look at the homeless because they represent what we would be without our “worldly armor”? Are we scared to have nothing? Does this represent ultimate failure to us?
Who are we without our stuff?
What story about myself am I not willing to let go?
Does the way the world sees me actually matter?
Do I realize what I own is temporary and therefore, not “real”?
Who is the real me, stripped down, owning nothing, not attached to labels, not defined by society?