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Not so long ago I was homeless and lost
Not so long ago I was homeless and lost. This wasn’t the Jesus’ salvation kind of lost, but the sort where my child-like self got trapped in an unmanageable jumble. I was very alone in the world of depression and anxiety. One morning I was so desperately tired after a long night that I pulled off the road to nap for a few minutes before driving to another location. On this hot day I fell asleep in my car under a tree. The occupant of a nearby house called the police about a woman who “looked suspicious” at the end of his sidewalk. The officer who came by was nice enough when I explained I had worked all night and a tiredness came over me such that I had to stop to prevent having an accident. What I didn’t say was that I had once owned a house in that very neighborhood. What I didn’t do was ask the man who felt threatened by my weary self what it was that caused him to feel afraid of me. I drove to a place where a dumpster blocked a small drive that would hide me while I slept until I could climb into to a bed a friend located.
There are people in this country who get arrested for what they aren’t. They aren’t rich. They aren’t part of a housed community. They aren’t part of an elite workforce whose salaries allow them to be worry free when the bills come to a mailbox attached to a house with a permanent address. There are few public places to rest, but they aren’t ever out and away from watchful eyes who decide they’ve crossed a line. They aren’t we. They are they. Even parking lots aren’t safe places to cross when you are pushing a cart or have a look that says, “I slept in these clothes last night.”
Of the things I do not ever want to forget or deny is that once upon a time I was homeless. In all the ways I wanted to imitate Jesus this was not one of them. When Christians read the passage about Jesus not having a place to lay his head they seem to imagine that he just happened to be on the road in that moment out away from Motel 6. As I see it the only thing that kept Jesus sane was his community. Without community I could not have survived the mental duress or kept hope.
Homelessness should never be romanticized. It is truly a demeaning, awful experience. Humiliation, anxiety, depression, and shame are just a few of the perks that come with the package. There is nothing quite like always being vigilant lest someone make assumptions as to how I got into this predicament. It wasn’t an overnight thing.
I don’t know whether Jesus was the exclusive, special son of God, just another child of the Creator like you and me, or a totally made up character. It doesn’t matter. There was someone by the name of Jesus whose passion was to carry a message to humanity giving instructions on how we should treat one another. The point of scripture and myth is the overall message that we are all children of a being greater than ourselves, who is about love. I see God in you and you can see God in me. Imago Dei.
The Harriet Tubman Community is about a gathering of souls. When an individual drifts as though gravity is no longer a natural law the heart becomes an unbearable weight holding the person in a state of grief. It is our job to recognize this pained creature and help them find their way home to a community of acceptance. That’s what I understand Jesus did. This is church, too.
Susan Hudson McBride