Photo by Bing.com
Once in a while, during dark, snowy, cold Winter nights I think of them. As I snuggle safe in my bed surrounded by warmth and comfort I am visited by visions of those who are roaming the streets, seeking shelter under a bridge, with a newspaper for a blanket, in the company of despair. I am referring of course, to those we call “homeless.”
Perhaps because of my passionate love for my home, this particular issue strikes me quite hard. Fortunately, in the town where we live there are no homeless people. I only see them on the rare occasions when I visit New York City and this is one of the main reasons why I avoid going there. I feel guilty. I feel sad. I feel uncomfortable. I know it’s not my fault but as a person, as a human being, I can’t help but imagine myself or anyone I care for in that situation. The mere thought is horrifying. So, like most of us, I hurry past and avert my eyes. I don’t want to see their pain, whether “chosen” or caused by greater circumstances, but the visions stay with me and will surface at unexpected moments with startling clarity.
Last year during a trip to Northern Spain I was awoken by a sweet, haunting melody. I looked out my balcony and there he was. A young man, his flute, and his dogs. I was in awe of their beauty and their sad reality and I rushed through breakfast hoping to see him so I could give a donation, but by the time I left he had gone. I don’t have to look at the photograph I took to remember the scene. It just keeps coming back to me.
Just the other day, while searching the web I discovered Kylyssa, a freelance writer/poet and former homeless person. Kylyssa not only talks about her experiences, including her multiple rapes, but especially about those who helped her. It is because of these individuals that she never lost her faith in humanity. Her writings can be found at http://www.squidoo.com/inspire_by_homelessness
Kylyssa’s post reminded me of something I witnessed a couple of years ago while riding the subway in the City. It was a cold morning, the wagon was full and everyone had the closed guarded look of the typical city dwellers. I noticed a woman holding a backpack, she would open the zipper, peak inside and close it, she’d muttered to herself, then do it again. During one of the stops a young man walked in. His coat was shabby and dirty and he was very thin. He sat quietly, absorbed in deep thoughts. When it was time for the woman to alight and right before the doors opened, she approached the young man and handed him a dollar. I do believe that at that moment, time stopped briefly as he looked up surprised and uttered a muffled thank you. She just smiled and left. I held back tears, I knew in my heart I had witnessed something special. A rare moment when a perfect stranger shows the beauty of love and compassion.