My backpack leans against my thigh. Standing now for what seems hours, the bent metal frame presses into my gaunt flesh. It hurts. But it’s a pain that reminds me that I’m still here. Still standing. Still waiting.
People look at me and read my sign, then look away. I want to tell them, “I really would work for food.” But I don’t have that chance.
Occasionally a kind soul drops off a care package of food and water. I’m torn. I’ve worked my way into a prime location where hundreds of cars pass. Maybe one will bring that person I’ve prayed for who will offer me dignity and a chance to be what God meant me to be. So, no, even though I’m hungry, I won’t leave my post to eat from that manna sack.
The days are long, but not as long as the nights. I don’t sleep well. But as the sun sets, I move to my safe place, arrange my bed roll, and shut my eyes.
The morning breaks to another day. Some people refer to me and my friends as homeless — and hopeless. We may not have an address with a house and a yard. But we’re not hopeless. That’s why we stand and hold our signs and look for the one who wants us to be what God wants us to be.
* * *
In recent weeks, I’ve overheard several conversations where people targeted the less fortunate for their “lack of industry” and for the inconvenience they present. Before you gasp in horror, I want to confess that I’ve had those thoughts myself from time to time. Have you? Recently, I’ve come to wonder what it would be like to have little opportunity beyond staking out a street corner and reaching for the scraps that are thrown my way.
Sure, some people who “work” the streets take advantage of others. But surely you know that some people who “work” the offices in the buildings of gleaming steel and glass take advantage of others, too. The majority on the street and in the offices, however, are simply looking for their place.
We all need a chance, we all need our hopes fulfilled. God knows that. God will provide that. But don’t we know that he wants us to be involved in the delivery?