Cardboard, Cold Weather, & Compassion
We did sleep out in cardboard boxes over the weekend. We felt a peculiar kinship with our homeless brothers & sisters by doing so & it opened out hearts to crave more understanding & empathy towards them.
Yes, there are too many misconceptions & harsh judgements to dispel towards the homeless among us, and this was just a running start. Guest speakers enlightened us a lot about the issue: the massive gap between minimum wage & the rising cost of housing is a major contributing factor towards homelessness; that there are many homeless workers, over homeless panhandlers; and that mental health, our attitude towards war veterans & the foster care system all play a role towards this crisis.
For all of us, it was an overwhelming event â€“ one that will propel us forward & continually change our hearts.
I wish I could say that 2 nights out in the cold helped me appreciate my bed at home, however the guilt is unbearable. My friend Sukh says that everyone has his or her suffering. My struggles of shame & the difficulty of crawling under my warm blanket is a type of suffering all itâ€™s own, I suppose. How do I choose to suffer, is that the real issue here?
Maybe if we were braving freezing temperatures, in total isolation, or scrounging through trashcans for food, the experience would have intensified. Frankly, our annoying cell phones, fancy flashlights, & freshly brewed coffee did mar the illusion a bit, however collectively, we were most sincere in our intentions.
There were a multitude of lessons to learn over this weekend, such us: whether weâ€™re homeless or not, do we each live in our self-imposed â€œcardboard boxes,â€ whether itâ€™s on job, within our relationships or the struggle to stay the course?
But, I finally came to terms with my own personal struggle towards this weekend.
The sense of camaraderie & community we felt as friends was most profound & I couldnâ€™t help but wonder if our extended homeless family starved more for want of love over the need for food. As I relayed to KeKee, a beautiful man living outside the First Congregational Church of LB, as I hugged him: â€œI hope my warm embrace for you far outweighs the heat of this fleece blanket.â€ I looked into his eyes & their was a familiarity, a moment of oneness with him.Â
Is any man truly homeless who has friends?
Even though I had no problem using my blankets and bed after coming home, I know what you mean about feeling kind of awkward about being the “fortunate”. I know that it’s not realistic to ever get rid of poverty or even homelessness in this world that we’ve created. People live like they are divded by chalk lines that someone said we are not allowed to erase. People can survive ok outside. A couple hundred years ago there were many cultures that didn’t need to live in settled houses. It’s the fact that we force people to feel feared by simply because we fear them that bugs me. That we force them to see themselves through the eyes that hate them that makes me frustrated/angry/sad. No cure for our mental dis-ease.