finding my place

Posted on March 7, 2008


I just volunteered at our church for the Interfaith Hospitality Network, a local organization that coordinates churches to house homeless families for a week at a time. That’s the sort of thing that puts me in my place. If is weren’t for friends and family, I could be there. But what spirits. One guy did card tricks all night and was a real comedian. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Another was playing guitar. There were two tiny little babies, so cute. It was all very young parents and kids.

The oldest man, probably in his early 30s, was there with his 16 year old son (the card trickster). Imagine leaving high school everyday and going to a homeless shelter or a church to eat and sleep… His dad works two 40-hour jobs! and has no transportation except for our very slow public transit system. Basically he sleeps on the weekends and eats only when there is time and food available. He disappeared suddenly from the church and everyone was concerned that he was OK; including his son. I drove until I found him heading for work. He had missed the closest bus so was on a high-speed walk to catch his second bus option at Meijers about 3 miles away. He had to be there in 20 minutes. If he made it on time, he would then make it to work an hour early, clock in early so he can clock out early; 10 hours later. Then he would have the time to walk a half hour (no big deal to him) to his next job and be on time for an 8 hour shift. I did drive him to his bus stop. Pretty big of me, huh?

Here is the amazing thing: This man exuded nothing but gratefulness; for his son, for his jobs, for the lunch I brought him (he left so quickly he forgot it), for food and shelter at the church (he kept saying how wonderful we were). He said he would rather hustle the jobs than hustle the streets. And he just prays to God everyday that his son sees that there is no need to hustle the streets. I told him how much respect I have for him then I cried all the way back to church. Before leaving church that night (I could leave, not them) I told his son how much respect I have for his dad. His son’s eyes are wide open. He sees it.

These folks subtly and powerfully put me in my place; without words. A place of being grateful for what is. A place of humility as I catch a glimpse of people facing such raw human struggle.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.”

Matt 5:3-5