No moment is more humbling--i think--than having a real, simple conversation with a person who has been living on the street for several years. Except maybe him telling you that God will take care of him.
From noon yesterday, Jan. 27th, to noon today, my coworkers and I, in addition to a lot of volunteers and workers from other organizations, spread throughout the city of New Orleans in an effort to count the total number of people here who are homeless. I am so thankful for experiences like this--despite my kicking and whining about having to work 'til 8:30 and wake up at 5--as they show me the raw humanness behind my work, something the computer screen somehow doesn't always seem to convey.
I got to speak with two homeless couples, see inidividuals lined up in their sleeping bags under the "Be A Star" exhibit on the main public library window, and just TALK with people about their experiences. It's unbelievable how something that simple can 1.) make me so nervous (it's just scary to walk up to someone & say "i'm doing a survey on homelessness; have a minute?", even if you can tell (s)he is homeless!) and 2.) reveal something in my heart that can easily get lost. Something that's hard to describe in terms of a feeling, but it's something to do with REAL human connection, of re-realizing (I constantly need to do this) that we're more alike than we are different, that my judgments are wrong more often than not, that it's just absolutely amazing to talk to someone who just got out of jail (for a reason i don't know), who very real-ly shares that he likes to stay by himself (outside when it's clear & in a dumpster when it rains (an already emptied dumpster, of course, b/c one time he did accidentally get in a full one and found himself in the air about to be dumped)) b/c he gets real annoyed with people easily & just doesn't want to be around them (there was an implication that he gets violent when he gets annoyed, but i don't have "verification" of that).
I feel like I overuse the word "real" on a pretty regular basis. Do you get what I mean when I use that word? It's something like the heart thing I just described I think. When you can just feel that there are no preconceived notions or judgments or something. When there's a lot of eye contact definitely. When you just feel on the same page with someone. I like real people, homeless and non.
Abrupt ending stops here.