So I was driving to meet a client yesterday, and stopped at the same light I stop at every day looking at the same man I see everyday, holding his sign "Hungry, anything will help". I typically don't carry around cash, but when I do I always try to give them something. Even when people mock me and say they're just going to spend it on beer.
Well, I actually made eye contact with this man and felt my heart breaking. I sat there imagining his childhood and his home life. How he is somebodies baby. Their Child. I couldn't stop thinking about this man and why he was on the streets. I woke up this morning and he is still on my mind.
The path I take to get to my favorite spot on the river passes a circle of trees under an overpass. Amongst these trees is a soaken matress surrounded by fourties and wet clothes. Someone's bed. I haven't ever seen the dweller of this secret hide-away, but I always check to make sure that he's still there.
When I was a little girl, my family used to take me to participate in a program called CARITAS where homeless families stayed at our church for a week. I may have abandoned all beliefs from this particular church, but this program was one thing they did right. Some of my best childhood memories are sitting next to people on their dirty sleeping bags, listening to their stories and asking questions about how it felt to sleep outisde in the winter. I remember wanting to bring all of them home with me.
My point is this: Next time you see someone holding a battered sign and wearing worn and dirty clothes, look past the assumptions our culture seems to make about this population and remember they are somebodies baby.
Even if they do spend the money on beer - they are still human and searching for acceptance, understanding and love.