Working with people experiencing homelessness has had a profound impact in my very being. I am not referencing some sudden epiphany about the nature of the human condition: rather a soul shaping, ground trembling, rebirthing of my humanity.
Seeing the corrosive effects of un addressed trauma reduce fellow brothers and sisters to mere shadows of the dreams they once contemplated for their lives hurts at a cellular level, reshaping my understanding of my place of privilege and the institutional violence that our nation inflicts upon those most vulnerable among us.
Carrying vicarious trauma on an unimaginable scale feels like a herculean task beyond mortal potential, yet there are moments when deep within the morass of putrid trauma profound victories manifest. Handing the keys too a new apartment to someone who has only known the daily tribulation of the dark streets for years is a kind of fervent elixir that sends healing magic through my teetering psyche.
On another level my priorities in life have been scrambled by a tempest of trauma, death, mental illness, physical disability and concern for both clients and co workers. Gone are my conceptualizations of a world where activism on a global scale is of primary import. Food, healthcare, housing, service and empathy manifested in the now are preeminent in my very being.
It has been an unfortunate realization that so few of my religious peers really understand the level of suffering on the streets of American cities. The criminalization of those experiencing homelessness continues un-abated as we gather to celebrate our seasonal festivals and my desire to participate is washed away by my wish to turn all of our spiritual energies towards the disasters unfolding in alleys and behind dumpsters in American cities.
All this feels somewhat like I would imagion the solders that liberated the death camps in World War II felt like. It is beyond my comprehension that the richest nation on earth can by policy, law and greed send such a vulnerable group of human beings to total annihilation via neglect.
Yes, we are helping, yet our endeavors are much like using a sewing thimble to bail water from a sinking boat. We need help on a massive scale. My desire is not so much for my co-religionists to adopt my understanding of this being the preeminent issue facing our communities, as it is too call those I know to get to know people experiencing homelessness. What divinity whispers to me is that if people really knew the reality things would be different.
Blessings upon all who read this and consider, even if for a moment, what they can do!
In Her Service