Tag Archives: homeless

Walk #3

In my Neighborhood

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Walking with my head lowered, my cap visor pulled down reflected how I felt after examining my finances. Suddenly I nearly bumped into a man standing at the edge of the sidewalk. I startled just a smidgen, but looked closely at the shabbily dressed, but immaculate looking man of indeterminable age.

He smiled.

He said nothing and I felt comfortable stopping a scant few feet from him. Looking into his smile I felt a weight lift. In heartbeats I forgot my troubles and the mood of my day changed. I asked if I could take his photo for my blog about our neighborhood. Hands in his pockets, he didn’t move but his smiled broadened. I snapped, thanked him and began walking again – the sun would be hot soon.

A few steps later I looked back to wave but didn’t see him. In my newfound peace I felt a little sad he was gone, but then I too smiled. I am blessed. As I envisioned his smile again something shiny in the grass caught my eye:

homeless memorial

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

 

Images are from my private collection and aside from reblogging or reposting the article in whole, are not to be copied without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Walk #2

Inspired by the amazing Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha’s Echoes of my Neighborhood. If you haven’t already met her, you must visit A Cooking Pot and Twistedtales for a taste of this, a sampling of that and you never know what else. You won’t be sorry. Thanks for all your masterful advice, Jacqueline! My phone will do for now. ❤

 

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Every hour my fitness device reminds me to get up and move. Typically I stretch and then power walk around a different block each lap, each hour. Depending upon the time of day these strolls are usually uneventful. My third tour this morning was an exception.

great pyrenees pixabay

*

Returning home, I found Steve, our charming next-door neighbor. He confirmed my suspicion that he’d actually popped by to chat as I barbecued the other day  – annnd to identify the dog that’s permeated our once quiet neighborhood with constant, loud barking. I’m glad to know he pays attention. I’m also comforted knowing I’m not the only one the dog annoys. I informed him the property owners the other side of our house are in the long process of moving back in to their rental property. Misery loves company.

Steve also identified the cars belonging to their property. I can now tell at a glance who’s around and who’s away – mostly. We laughed at how he learned the names of 100 young campers the week before, yet he forgets Erin and my names. He artfully worded how even from a distance he knows me on sight as he does construction work around the neighborhood. It’s nice to know he’s watching out for the two old broads neighbors.

underpass 1Most notable, he too leaves provisions for the people living under the bridge. And he directed me to other neighbors who work at local food pantries where they need volunteers. I’m in.

What a marvelously invigorating, inspiring 15 minutes!

 

“Pay attention to this, Job. Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God!” Job 37:14 (NLT)

*Image courtesy Pixabay

All other images, property of Rapture Practice! Publications (c)2016 are not to be shared or otherwise distributed without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Sword

underpass 1

On part of my walk to the local strip mall I go beneath an on-ramp underpass rather than cross the busy highway above it. Somebody lives there – possibly a few people. I always look carefully, but never saw anyone. Still, each time I approach I pray; for safety, strength, wisdom but mostly for insight.

I step cautiously along that rocky, eerie path littered with bedding, clothes and rubbish; mostly empty alcoholic beverage bottles, cans and fast food refuse. I once crossed to the other side but it is dangerously narrow along the blind curve. So – no.

For most of my life I’ve carried a small Swiss Army knife, complete with handy tools – way before anyone heard of L.J. Gibbs or NCIS. I taught my sons to practice the same – and to keep a handkerchief (especially at weddings and funerals) in case a lady needs one. Days after describing my mostly lovely walks to son Quinn, I was giddy to find a package at my door with a note insisting I carry the content on my walks.

flipknife

My son didn’t send a tool – it’s a conspicuous, lightweight, gruesome-looking weapon, with a lever to quickly release the serrated blade. I grew up with overprotective brothers and I’ve been through police training. Even knowing first-hand the desperation of some street people, I felt uncomfortable about the ominous looking thing – not about carrying it, but having to pull it in self-defense.

A few days later as I approached the underpass I again asked God for help. I typically palm my little knife as I approach. As I reached for the new bulge on my belt I clearly heard from somewhere deep inside,

“…Those who use the sword will die by the sword.*.”

Slightly confused, I kept walking, but thought about the scenario Jesus addressed in that passage. He reminded his apostles His Father was in control and the coming events would actually fulfill prophesies in the coming hours.

underpass 3My walks are hardly prophetic, but I understood the meaning. Shoulders squared, back straight, my empty hands casually at my sides, I began whistling, announcing my presence to whoever might have been hiding in the shadows. The smells were oppressive, the noise from traffic overhead deafening, so I was glad to return to the sunlight uneventfully.

Delighted to find some of my favorite produce and nuts on sale, I filled my canvas bag. But I kept thinking about the people sleeping on the rocks of the underpass.

By the time I finished shopping and set across the asphalt lot toward home heat already rose in waves.

Gazing up the path before me I ran the rules I’d learned over the years through my mind; maintain a safe distance, know where the shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are in my area and never give strangers, panhandlers, money – “it ultimately prolongs their problems.”

But I also remember being homeless. Stuck by circumstances, I didn’t trade or abuse substances. Still, I doubt I’ll ever forget being sick with worry about my kids, the judgmental looks of people as I sought employment, the desperation, the longing for someone to give a care, or that I still could be one paycheck away from homelessness again.

Feeling the weight of the bag on my back, perspiration beginning to form, I stopped beneath a shade tree in the middle of the parking lot. I put apples, carrots and some nuts into a separate produce bag and knotted it so it was airtight. Gazing ahead, once more I asked God to go before me and then started walking.

Approaching the underpass, I called out (in the most rugged voice I could muster), “I’m just passing through. I don’t want anything and mean no harm.” As I stepped around the dirty bedding I set the bag of fresh food on it without stopping.

Cars whizzed by yards away, oblivious to my presence as I stepped back into the sunlight.

Sleeping Butte

When I arrived home I was glad Ellie was there visiting with Erin. As I put the groceries away I described the scenario leading up to the first crossing beneath the underpass. Then I asked for feedback. Ellie thought for a while and then said, “This may sound cliche, but I would ask what Jesus would do.”

She confirmed what I felt. Peace returned and I went on about my work.

The state of our society continues to disturb me, but my primary purpose is to pray, pay attention and obey the Master.

I’m not entirely ludicrous. I asked God about a stun gun. No answer yet. So, I carry the knife. But once in a while I tie up a separate bag of fresh food, take the short-cut beneath the underpass. As I walk along the highway side I place the bag on the wall and announce, “I’m just walking here. I mean no harm…”

 

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

 

*Matthew 26:52 (NLT)

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Reality

Shadow MLK

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I’m not always the brightest bulb on the string. Sometimes I grope and grovel around to realize I must tighten my seat in the socket.

In the midst of all the global violence, something about my recent Throwdown experience bothered me. That’s putting it mildly. Days of praying, talking it out with wiser minds, reading, reflecting and praying some more led to some profound realizations.

I occasionally misjudge – especially myself. Okay, I do that a lot making myself fairly miserable. My problem du jour was fear – disguised as cowardice.  The latest shocker:

meekness, non-violence is frequently mistaken for weakness or cowardice. I confirmed this in my self-judgement.

Friends, yeah and my trained, professional counselor showed me the source of my fear; shame. Occasionally in my past I responded to bullies and abusers ferociously.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.“*1 

Clearly I must continuously confront my potential for violence. Avoiding confrontations is a natural result from such fear. In my world trusting God helps me overcome that reality as I practice the way of the cross – strength through nonviolence.

I believe that’s partly why I feel the agony of these worldwide events so deeply. Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about them. It’s horrifying because I am as guilty of violence as the next guy. Like many of us are “one paycheck away from being homeless,” I could have been steps away from crossing the line into madness, committed one of those atrocities, made one of those deadly mistakes. I must choose.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” *2

That’s my reality today. More than ever before I thank God, the Source of strength I easily take for granted.

Gandhi strong

**

I can live with appearing cowardly. Being slower than many people I admire is okay. Sure, to be a great thinker of stuff like many of my friends would be wonderful. I’m not. But I’m not alone either. God uses flawed humans, our friends, our heroes to shine into our lives. So once in a while, I have bright moments too. We are continuously faced with choices. Today I choose to make friends with my fear.

 

lincoln enemy friend

 

*1 Romans 8:1 (NLT)

*2 Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

 

Images courtesy *FreeNeoWallpapers **Gandhi and Lincoln Images courtesy Pinterest

 

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What About Home?

I began writing about home, what defines it, what it is and what it might be. For weeks I have been staring down my past, how I arrived where I am. I stared so hard that I overlooked the present for a while. The present ended my query.

People all over the globe face devastation and uncertainty; stark, horrifying statistics filling headlines. While doing perfunctory tasks, I tried to imagine my family; trudging along, minuscule elements in a flood of humanity, swept away with the debris of war.

Masses of people endure hardships, fleeing death or worse, uncertain where they’ll be when the sun sets. What is worse, those necessitating their flight hide among them.

I am thankful to be home – today. I am not comfortable, not for myself, not for my family or friends, and certainly not for more than 60 million souls. God help us all.

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