There's a guy who hangs out near my Walgreens and whenever I have a dollar I give it to him. For some reason I started thinking about him a lot, worrying about him you might say and I wanted to meet him. I don't know why - I know that in the lingo of the church where I was raised, one would say that "the Spirit was speaking to me" - but I don't use that lingo anymore so I don't really know how to describe how I felt.
I just know I wanted to meet him.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be stopped at the red light so we had more than a second to visit. I asked him if he needed anything else - he indicated anything was welcome. I clarified that I was wondering if he had the phone numbers to call for places in town that helped people who didn't have a home. He said he didn't, I offered to bring them and he said that would be great.
Last night I pulled together some numbers - it's not as easy as you might think - even with a semi-decent internet connection. I grabbed some quarters and a water bottle, then my son insisted that I include a bag of Chips Ahoy. He wasn't around yesterday evening and I was oddly worried. I saw someone else's sign by the side of the road - abandoned - and I started thinking about all the rough things that could happen to him. And of course - how many others were out last night? It wasn't just my friend in danger.
Today he was back at his corner so I walked over to him. Two other guys were with him so it was kind of crummy that I didn't have a bag for everyone, but I at least introduced myself and got into a mini-discussion about the proper pronunciation of Caritas. (Now I'm really wondering....)
Here's what I learned: my friend's name is Dwayne. I'd always noticed that he had a wolf t-shirt that he hung over his backpack and I told him how much I loved it. He pointed out that the reason he liked it is that the wolf has green eyes with dark fur and he told me to look at his eyes - they were blue. Blue, blue eyes against his dark skin - very cool.
Anyway, we talked for a while about how some people can treat you like you're nothing - I told him it happened to me too but that he just needed to remember he was a blessing. (Because he is.)
The reason I'm telling you this is that "Homelessness" is so big and overwhelming - it seems hopeless. The big huge social issue of homelessness and all the other social issues that are intrinsically tied into it ARE huge and I can't do a darn thing about them by myself.
But now we all know Dwayne's name. If you ever pray or even if you just think about people and hope for the best, then you can think about Dwayne by name. I gave him the numbers for a bunch of places here in town - including Caritas and Front Steps. I gave him cookies and water, and three quarters. It's just a start, but love will take him further.
So maybe tonight, just tonight - if we all pray for Dwayne - he'll see a new direction and a new hope. My son asked me last month why I pray so often. I told him that it's because there are so many things in life over which I have no control. When I pray, I send my love out - sometimes that's all I can do. I guess I'm still Baptist enough (deep down) to believe it makes a difference in the world. I know it makes a difference in my heart.