Category Archives: homeless

till living doesn’t feel like giving up

About twice a month, sometimes three or four times a month I have to travel to different municipal or state agencies to file things for clients of my company. And now and again I’ll go see a few of clients during the month.

As a result I see quite a bit of the city as I drive around. Probably not nearly as much as some outside sales people but more than your average guy stuck in an office.

So last week I was on my way back from the State Comptroller’s Office and I saw a guy on a corner holding a sign. There are so many people doing this. Unbelievable how many. And it’s sad that in our country people have had to resort to this to stay alive.

But for some I wonder if it really is their last option. I mean there’s a a young guy (mid to late 20’s) near my office who claims on his sign to be a Marine Corps veteran. I don’t know, maybe he is. There is a couple that looks to be in their mid-50’s who wheel their down syndrome daughter out to the side of the road with them asking for money. There is one woman I remember seeing who put on such a display of despair as motorists drove by I felt embarrassed for her because it seemed so fake.

Maybe I’m just too jaded or I don’t know… wary. But these three examples of people begging for subsistence seems like an act. And so last week, when I saw yet another guy, holding a sign, I didn’t think much of it but the light turned red and I had a chance to…

well to pay a little more attention.

I don’t know. Something about his posture. Something about him just made me think twice give in. So I rolled down my window and gave him a few dollars. When he came up to me I said, “hang in there brother. Hang in there.” He said, “I’m trying. I’m giving it all to God. God bless you young man. Thank you so much.”

In our exchange he seemed ashamed and I couldn’t tell if it was sweat or tears that lined his cheeks but I was moved.

I don’t know what his story is. I don’t know if he really is out of work, is mentally disturbed, a scam artist, an artist artist, or Jesus come down to judge us but this song by a local singer/songwrier was playing on my CD player as I sat at the red light and it made the whole scene… the whole interaction so much more real.  And I felt sorry for him. And I prayed a little prayer for him. And I had tears in my eyes, perhaps not only for him but myself as well.  I am thankful for grace of God, my good fortune and own determination that I am not in his place.

Music by Sara Van Buskirk
Find more of Sara’s music here

did Jesus visit my UU church

Like most churches, my congregation has potlucks. Almost every event we organize is intertwined with a potluck. We’re lucky we have a number of members who like to cook and as one of the resident bachelors in the crowd, I get to reap the benefits of some awesome home cooked meals when this happens.

So a few weeks ago we had one. There were quite few people there and a bunch of little kids running around like little maniacs… you know, doing their job as kids. We had music going, good conversation, good food and good fellowship.

Well being a small congregation, you know immediately when someone walks in and is a stranger. Alex, had been riding his bike around in our parking lot for several minutes as he scoped us out to see if we were friend or foe, while a couple of the fellas burned up burgers and dogs on a little hibachi.

He timidly and somewhat ashamedly accepted an invitation to come inside and eat with us. You see Alex is homeless. He looks to be in his late 20s and he has apparently made some bad choices that have him in his current situation. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Sometimes when you’re eating a shit sandwich it’s because you ordered it.”

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There but for the Grace of God go I

Holy crap is it hot! It is so FRIGGIN hot outside I’m surprised I don’t just burst into flames when I step out my door.

Ok, we don’t have it nearly as bad here as the mid section of the country that’s getting it with 100 degree weather… or those folks in Arlington, TX or the folks in the Southern California and Arizona deserts but it is pretty smokin hot down in here on the Gulf Coast Plains.

I had to go downtown into the concrete jungle yesterday and the ground temperature was amazing. You could feel the street’s heat right through your shoes.

I really shouldn’t complain though. I’m so fortunate and lucky. I mean really… I’m here complaining about the heat and I suffered through it for all of what?… four minutes of walking from my parking spot to the building I was going to and then relief.

But it got me to thinking, what if I had no place to go to get relief? What if I lived on the streets? What if I were homeless? Where would I go?

I gave money to a lady the day before yesterday who is not so lucky or fortunate. Actually I don’t know her story at all whether she’s lucky or not but I wouldn’t want to be in her position.

She came up to me and asked me for a dollar.

“just a dollar?” I said.

“yes, that’s all I need.”

“well… umm [deist looks in his wallet], i’ve got a couple I can spare.”

“God bless you. Thank you. Thank you.”  And she walked off.

As I walked in to the air conditioned restaurant we were standing in front of, I heard a young woman saying to someone else, “it’s a scam, she’s ALWAYS there BEGGING for money.” She said it with disdain in her voice.

I walked up to the counter feeling as though everyone was looking at me with the same disgust they had for the beggar woman because of my enabling act.

I struggle with what to do though when it comes to giving money to homeless people. I struggle because I know what it’s like to be really hungry. When I was young we were poor and lots of times I went to bed hungry. I struggle because I know what it’s like to be without a home. When I was young we got evicted… a few times and my mother and four siblings and i were at the mercy of friends.

I struggle because I think of the teaching by Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher attributed as the author of the Tao Te Ching, that says if we give a man a fish he eats for a day.  If we teach him to fish he eats for a lifetime.

And then there is the teaching from the Christian Holy Book that says those who are righteous are those who feed and clothe the hungry.  Mat 25:40  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ”

The lady I gave money to said she needed just one more dollar so she could get a hotel room for her and her daughter.  I didn’t see her daughter anywhere nor do I even know if she has a daughter.  For all I know she wanted a hotel room to turn tricks or she was gonna buy some liquor or score a rock. I don’t know.

Maybe I was enabling elicit behavior.

She appears to qualify though as “the least of His brothers” .

I don’t know what to think…   I’ve been there myself though and I feel really bad for those who are hungry and without a home, because the immediacy of the situation is they need relief but I certainly don’t want to feed their addictions and demons.  Either way… they need relief.  What Would UU Do?

[Deist thinks to himself as he looks out the window of his air conditioned office, “Dammit it’s hot out there.”]