One day while I was living on the streets last March, I encountered two men who, although they were strangers challenged with homelessness, went out of their way to 1. keep me out of jail, 2. help me find shelter and even 3. give me a job. Learn more about my unforgettable day discovering friends in strange places. After a brutal night of sleeplessness at a drop-in center (see No Chance In…-Part 7), I headed out to find a soup kitchen where I could get some breakfast. Using my booklet I was given at the drop-in center listing all of the places in the city to find free meals, I made my way to St. Bartholomew’s Church on 50th St between Park and Lexington Ave. St. Bart’s, as they like to call it, was a very popular place to eat. Read the full post>>>
A toothless, one-eyed man named Billy who lived on the streets offered me his last gift card. My own self-centeredness was assaulted by the reckless kindness of this stranger with a scruffy beard. Who was this man and why would he do this? I was learning lessons on true wealth and doing justice from what appeared to be the most unlikely of teachers during my week living on the streets of New York City. Talk about not being able to judge a book by it’s cover… In the book Just Mercy, author Bryan Stevenson says, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Poverty is not just the simple absence of wealth. Poverty is the social condition of being disfavored.” Being poor isn’t just being broke. Read the full post >>>
It was my third night living on the streets of New York City as a part of my spiritual pilgrimage. I walked up the stairs of the drop-in center called The Main Chance that was supposed to be a temporary oasis for those challenged with homelessness. I was exhausted from walking the streets. I hadn’t bathed in days and was hoping I could get a good night’s sleep and a hot shower. Unfortunately, The Main Chance turned out to be “no chance in…” At the top of the stairs I found an open room with women sitting in plastic chairs. I looked at them and felt uncomfortable, so I quickly looked away. These ladies had no privacy here and probably didn’t want some strange man gawking at them. I turned around and found the stairs up to the next level where the men are kept. Read the full post >>>
While I rested alongside many other people challenged with homelessness at Grand Central Station, I saw a mentally ill woman who wore white makeup like a mad clown. She had bright red lips and crazy eye makeup. She talked to herself and gestured with her hands to no one. How did she end up that way and was there any hope of escape from the torment of her own mind? Sadly, the streets can drive a person to madness…After panhandling that morning in the falling snow, I headed over to a drop-in center to see if they would allow me to sleep there that night. A drop-in center is like a shelter, but with chairs to sleep in instead of beds. I thought, “Anything has to be better than sleeping on a moving subway train.” I was dead wrong. Read the full post >>>
"Too many bad days" said the former wall street businessman as he sat with his shoulders slumped, melted into that plastic folding chair, on the streets of NYC where he now makes his bed.
Too many bad days had left my friend of nearly 5 years in a void of nothingness that I had never seen in him before...
And this scares me.
The average life expectancy of someone dealing with homelessness is 47 years of age. 47!
Compared to the rest of us that are expected to live to the age of 77, those among us that are lacking a home live an astonishing 30 years less!
Obviously, it's not just the home itself that leads to this large of an age gap. Read the full post>>>
For me, this day is filled to the tip top of the cup with the expectation of all the good things that will happen as I go throughout the next 14 hours of my waking life.
The people that I will encounter, encourage, or at a minimum smile towards - which hopefully, in turn, will set off a life-giving smile inside of them as well.
The information that I will get to be a part of learning about, the relationships that I will deepen, the observations of the world that will continue to deepen who I am and how I process each day's happenings.
Like I said, good things. Hopeful things. Exciting things.
But, that's me.
Within all of that goodness, I am also very aware of the incredible hurt, pain, and weight that so many of my fellow people are waking up with (if they even were able to sleep at all under such a heaviness), the piles of baggage they are loading into their car or strapping to their back as they embark of the treachery of the point A to B, or C, or L of where this life drops them today. Read the full post>>>
As I panhandled, I had to keep brushing snow off of my sign so that people could read it. That caused my gloves to get wet which then started to freeze. By the 45-minute mark I was shaking with cold and my hands ached. The snow turned to sleet rain which got my jeans wet so I held my sign over my legs like a roof. I only made $2.00 and 50¢ in that hour. It was going to be a long day… Read the full post on Medium >>
That night I squeezed into a space narrower than a coffin, trying to get some desperately needed sleep. I was glad to escape the frigid temperatures outside, but felt uneasy with the strangeness of my surroundings. I hoped that no one would steal my boots while I slept. Each winter, about 700 homeless people in America die from hypothermia. About 35 people freeze to death each year in New York City where I serve. This is beyond tragic. Read the full post on Medium >>