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It Could Have Been Me…

“It could have been me, outdoors, with no food and no clothes; or just alone without a friend, or just another number with a tragic end.” Hawkins

But what do you do when it is you? Ever wonder what homeless folks do all day? If you were homeless what would you think about? Where would you go? How would you care for your basic hygienic tasks (especially as a woman)? Who would you talk to? What would you talk about? If you were looking for a solid job, where would you prepare your resume? Where would you get dressed to prepare for the interview? What address would you put on your application? If you have a medical condition that requires medication, how will you pay for it?


I’ve heard many sing the lyrics of the song that I mentioned above, heck, I’ve sang them myself. But as a person who is nowhere close to wealthy or even close to being financially comfortable, I can’t help but pay attention to the reality that not only could I be next, but there are people right now – tons of them, who have no place to live.
Poverty has no respect for what season of the year it is – Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. It has no regard for how your body will feel outside unprotected from the elements. If your money is gone, and your support systems are nonexistent, and the prospects of employment are nil, you are stuck!


Twice a week I make a journey to classes that require me to enter a well known Midwest highway. At the immediate entry point of the highway I look to my right and there are bags, clothing, and a host of additional items spread throughout different spots on the grass. At first I simply wondered what was going on and figured someone must have been setting up for an event or something. But each time I passed this way I saw the same items scattered in various places. As I looked more closely I discovered that the items I was seeing belonged to people – but not just any people, people who have no place to call home.


Too often we fail to actually “see” those living in poverty. Some shake their cups for spare change, hold up signs saying “homeless, please help, God bless you,” and most folks who are not homeless simply hold our heads down, roll up our windows, and make every effort not to make eye contact with people in need. Certainly, there are some who run game and hustle. But we must not forget that some are legitimately in need. Even if we are not able to tangibly assist them, perhaps we can acknowledge their humanity by making eye contact and referring to them as “sir” and “miss” when we encounter them.


Every homeless person has a story. Every homeless person is human – with feeling, thoughts, desires. And in the US, there are ample resources to go around. There is enough for everyone to have basic needs taken care of, yet poverty still exists. Could it be because of greed or injustice of some other kind?


By no means am I attempting to be a killjoy regarding expressing appreciation to God for your blessings. However, to stay at a place of rejoicing over what we have without consideration and care for those who do not have is misplaced and misappropriated gratitude.


Just rambling and thinking out loud…