What are homeless people like?
Though it’s not easy to admit, I harbored some preconceived notions:
Dangerous. Violent. Unintelligent. Uncaring. Lazy. Scary.
Until a few weeks ago. Until Manna House.
My first experience humbled and overwhelmed me. With regret for the assumptions I have made. Shame for my complacency. Anger at my own indifference while I lead a comfortable life as others suffer. I ignored them. I dismissed them. I cared, but not enough.
What changed from the me-centeredness, the casual, detached concern? Caring only because I knew I should?
Of people not so different from me after all. Children of God, my equals, who happen to be homeless. Some of whom can read and speak fluently in two languages, write poetry that expresses deep emotion and pain, beat me mercilessly at checkers and play a game of Scrabble that would challenge any wordsmith. Here’s an excerpt from a poem written by Tony, one of our guests:
The Manna House is a place where you can feel safe and get some rest,
Where help is offered through all they can do but keep in mind they’re only human too.
So if you ever come here please be thankful for this place
And at the end of every prayer you will always hear them say,
“Thank you, Lord for the coffee that’s hot, the sugar that’s sweet and the creamer that takes all life’s bitterness away.”
Scrabble games, soap, clean socks and coffee may not change a life. But maybe a few hours of peace, rest, companionship and love can change that day in a life. Manna.
Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.
Photo credit: PhilipPoon, Homeless Person in Front of Temple