Nikos Kazantzakis | thatkindofwoman (via adderalldust)
Meghan Lynn (via upoverthefields)
I remember the first time I understood someone was homeless. I was in kindergarten. My bus changed its route one day and drove to the entrance of the Motel 6 down the road. We picked up one boy, named Charles. I remember the feeling of needing to talk to him but containing all my questions. Charles didn’t finish kindergarten with me. He may have been there for not even a month and I knew why. He was living in a hotel and I knew it was not for vacation.
The next time was in high school. My mom made a special trip to Delmar for my friend and I to go shopping. A man asked my mom for money which she didn’t have. After a few more steps she paused and went to Starbucks and bought him a pastry, with little explanation to me or my friend by the way. The rest is hazy but I remember understanding the difference in his life and mine.
A while later I declared my major social work. My e-mail was immediately filled with volunteer opportunity announcements. I went to an annual event held for the homeless in Springfield to receive a variety of services and gifts. I remember how they smelled. What they told me. And their priorities. I remember not wanting to leave them and not knowing why. I started studying at the downtown library where many of my new friends stayed during the day. To this day I don’t know what I was doing there. My heart just needed to be in their presence and listen to their voices.
I moved to Los Angeles my sophomore year where I was harshly confronted with the reality of poverty and the struggle of the ghetto. Every waking hour my mind flooded with questions, pain, anger, and frustration. The few hours I had to sleep my mind woke up because I knew my city wasn’t resting. I knew what was happening in the building across mine, at the park down the street, and in the alley around the corner.
My heart had been broken down, taken a beating, softened, and made aware of a world I never knew existed. I kept wishing that neighborhood would just slow down while I tried to comprehend it had been this way long before I moved in.
I realized that up until then I had been sheltered. I was sheltered from a lot of pain and violence that is attached to living in some zip codes. I was sheltered from a lot of things that when I see them now I think, “That child shouldn’t have to know that yet.” So I am grateful. I did not and will not feel guilty for having it “good.”
I have been poured into, affirmed, built up, taught, and sent out overflowing among people who have found themselves empty. One week after graduating college I moved into a shelter. I share an address and a pantry with 12 homeless women and their children. I still have next to no idea why this is my life but I do know I need to be here. Not only is my help needed but my heart needs for itself to be here. Together we share life and pain and triumph and struggle and together, by God’s beautiful orchestration of humans’ lives, we have been sheltered.
Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes (via aestheticintrovert)