Today I shook a lot of dirty hands. I used to be afraid of dirty hands, wondering what sort of invisible germs I would get. I didn't want to touch people who were dirty.
On the corner of Malcolm X and Dawson homeless people often walk by. Nearby, there is a homeless shelter. CitySquare goes to that corner every Thursday at 2 PM with waters and this week, chips.
For months I have been hoping to talk to/get to know homeless people. You'll remember Danielle, perhaps, who I met at the beginning of this adventure. For months I wondered why God would call me to the poor and needy of Dallas without showing me how. Today, I got to do it . . . to do my dream, to sit on a street corner (safely :)), in the sweaty outdoors. I shook dirty hands, got my own hands dirty, heard only perhaps a name (no real conversations) of people stopping to get water, and then watched most of them move on.
One homeless man said as he reached into the cooler, "Beer is coming out of me." (He meant, because I've been drinking, I need some water.) I have heard alcoholism leads to homelessness, but it was entirely different to see it. This man may be on the streets because he's addicted to alcohol. He was tall with a blue shirt on. He was nice. He was no different from me.
I learned today that the homeless people who come to that area of town have to hurry up to get in line to get a bed at the homeless shelter. This has to be a problem for those of them also trying to work. We saw many coming off the bus, presumably from a job. How do you measure what's more important: a bed or a job? How does one choose?
This corner is literally blocks from Deep Ellum, which is an area of our city currently being redeveloped. In that neighborhood, you experience something radically different from just a few blocks south in South Dallas.
It meant something new to me today, that Jesus washed feet. These were dirty feet I saw. People wearing sandals that barely had any sole left in them, or shoes that looked like they'd seen a better life. Many people were wearing clothes they had clearly been wearing (without washing) for days, if not weeks. It is a different world. Yet it's in my city. My city. Miles from where I grew up, yet it is a different world. Or is it?
I am a product of my environment. I am a product of clean streets, consistent lodging, parents who loved me, good food I was fed, an excellent education. I am a product of my skin color. I am a product of my connections. I chose none of these. Not one. They like to say, "to whom much is given, much is required," but do we believe it? Is it just a kitchy phrase we throw around, or do we believe that we are the product of our environment and that we are no better than anyone else? Do we live our lives in such a way that we give out of the abundance of what we have been given? I mostly don't. I mostly have never. I'd like that to change.