Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Bet You $1 You'll Read This

That's what the guy's cardboard sign read, held in grimy hands, resting on red, inflamed legs of an emaciated man sitting in a wheelchair outside the Petco Park where I was about to go to my first Padres baseball game. I read it. I didn't give him a dollar. I went inside and had a great time, between great company, home runs, and a win for the home team it was the quintessential summer San Diego experience.

On our way out of the stadium, I saw the man again, people milling around him. He was staring off, his eyes were downcast and a pale blue made more dramatic by his dirty, olive-skinned face. His eyes were sort of beautiful. I asked my group to wait a minute as I dug around in my purse. I produced a granola bar and presented it to the man asking, “Are you hungry?” I realize this was sort of an absurd question, but it was enough to jolt him out of his thoughts. He graciously accepted it. I reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze and said, “Take care of yourself”. More than anything, he seemed surprised by my touch.

San Diego is home to so many more (at least visible) suffering from poverty than I was used to seeing in Lincoln, and this Monday, my bemusement with the number of homeless I see on a day-to-day basis outgrew my complacency. I participated in an outreach called FloodLove, organized by my church during which a group of us meet at a supermarket in the heart of downtown, buy up some groceries, and hit the streets to seek out the homeless. They’re not hard to find. We ask them what they need, water, food, talk to them and learn their stories, make physical contact, and, if it feels like the right time, witness. We gave away eight bibles this week, we only give them if the person asks for one, they know we’re from the church so they’ll typically ask if they want one.

It was an incredible experience, but as we walked away from people calling after us “God bless you” and “Thank you so much, much appreciated”, I saw incompletion in the small piles of food on soiled blankets or being eaten with dirty fingers. What good will our snacks and kind words do by tomorrow once hunger and discouragement return?

Luckily, I know this amazing woman, Lindsey Partridge, who just so happens to work at the San Diego Rescue Mission to aid the homeless. Their mission, as she explained to me last night, is not only to provide meals and shelter, but to also transition the homeless into functioning citizens with purpose. She added that several former clients of theirs now work in the office. It fills me with hope to think of one of the men or women I met on the street going from a shopping cart and blanket to a place to live, a change of clothes, and food in cupboards. How often I take these things for granted.

So the plan is to collect some pamphlets on and educate myself about this organization so I can offer a next step should someone be interested, and trust me, many of them are.

As I conclude this lengthy post, know that this is not a page in the Charitable Life of Meg Schudel. If it were my choice, I would be sitting on my butt watching a movie rented from the library sipping a glass of wine in my cozy apartment (which may or may not be my plan for this evening). In fact, Monday evening, one hour before I was supposed to meet up with FloodLove, I didn’t feel well at all. It’s been so very long since God’s actually said anything to me, that I’ve forgotten what his voice sounds like. I still talk to Him, but I’ve ceased to even expect a response. But I asked God, “Okay, I feel like crap. But I think going is the right thing to do. So what do you want?” immediately, I heard “Feed my sheep”. It sounded like my voice in my head, but it had not come from me. I know because it was so automatic, so without process or consent.

So whatever else comes from this new purpose God has for me, I have to tell ya, I’m just glad He’s talking to me again.

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

as am i.

i'm so glad you you can take me next time. meg, god speaks to you and through you every day--some days we are actually listening. monday was one of those days for you. i need one too. love you.