What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shoulda, Would, Coulda

I had been able to blog fairly consistently over these past few weeks. Up til now. I would have thought it would have been easier to find a place to plug in my modem in a town as big as Salem, but alas, for we foreigners from Portland,'tis not the case.

I got spoiled with the Haggen chains along the way. In Bellingham and Marysville our Haggen markets had fireplaces to sit and relax in front of while blogging madly. Haggen does
not exist South of Tualatin. Not being a fan of the jolly green giant, we stopped @ nearly every fast food there was to see if there was an outlet to connect to. Nary a one did we find. Obviously that has changed at the time of this writing.

I discovered some time ago that I could actually blog through my phone. It is quite inconvenient trying to type three, four or five paragraphs with a 3 inch pen on an even smaller screen. I have however done so. Just a heads up if you find more type-o's than usual, I have probably blogged on the inconvenient mobile system however, it does not offer spell check. So forgive me in advance.

Sometimes there is no blog simply because I am pooped. Not always physically however. Listening to stories; to bigotry; to pleas for help is a different kind of tiring. The past two days however it is because I wasn't really sure how much I should say. After two days of careful consideration and prayer I have decided that I must say what is on my heart. Even if it's hard.

So I begin with this. My biggest fear over these last 30 years has been that I will end up being homeless yet again. For all intents and purposes, that is exactly what I am. I had been hoping to get a sponsor, but sadly because I am an individual and not a non-profit, did not. Although some generous donations were made, my traveling companion and I are living frugally on roughly $300 per month, therefore sleeping in a tent in a campground is not possible. I wimped out to sleeping on the side of the road in a tent. The two of us are sleeping at rest stops, cramped in the small accommodations of Patrick's mini-van. Already having a bad back, this is adding to the discomfort. My feet are always swollen, more often than not to twice their size because I can not elevate them.

We are showering in YMCA's twice a week if we're lucky but never more than that. Usually I try to wash in the sink at the rest stop, but they are not always clean and rarely have hot water. Survival mode kicks into gear and humiliation is something you learn to live with pretty quickly, although you never get used to the snide remarks.

We eat whatever we can, whenever we can. Mostly we eat sandwiches twice a day and cereal once a day. Protein is a luxury that we cannot often afford. We are taking daily vitamins so that should help to dispel any of the effects of improper nourishment.

So yes I am uncomfortable, but that discomfort is tolerable, and as I mentioned a few days ago, I have an advantage over others. At the end of this journey, I get to go home to a bed, and family and friends. The people I meet with every day, do not. By these things happening to me now, voluntarily, it gives me a fresher perspective on what the homeless go through every day.
The final level of discomfort comes from reliving my past. There is not a day on this trip that I have not thought of my past. Sometimes that will come through loud and clear. Sometimes it won't, but my past will be shared, in it's entirety albeit the Reader's Digest Condensed version.
Years ago, I belonged to a 12 step program. I had shared my story and afterwards this tiny little woman came up to me in tears and said it was the most horrific story she had ever heard. The following week she shared her story and I went to her and through my tears told her my story was nothing compared to hers.

She was born is Auschwitz. Her father was what the Nazi's had called a trash collector. He was the one who took the bodies they didn't burn out of the compound. He did this by way of horse and cart. My friend and her brother were smuggled out under the dead bodies. Her father and mother who had remained behind were killed for the effort. She and her brother were then hidden in an apple cellar. She was almost four years old the first time she was able to play outside in the sun.

My point to telling you the above mentioned is simple. Many of us at some point think that our stories are the worst ever. And they are because they happened to us. Our pasts are what have shaped our lives, good, bad or indifferent. Our stories can be difficult to tell. They can be more difficult for people to hear.

We hear about the people who have lost everything including family members to earthquakes of extreme magnitude; tsunami's of such intensity that 100,000's of thousands of lives are lost, let alone homes. We hear about entire cities dying due to famine. We listen to those stories and they touch our hearts, and we help without question. We would never think about judging them for the tragedy that has befallen. We help unconditionally, and that is exactly what we should do, for that is what God has called us to do. Help our neighbor.

The stories I tell on these pages are the stories that you don't hear about. They are the stories of the ones you don't see on the street corner holding up signs. Stories of the architect that designed your house; the teacher that educated your children; the executive on Wall Street. These are the stories of the grandmother who always baked cookies for the neighborhood children; the teen that helped you change a tire on a cold and snowy day; the family that sits next to you in church. These are the voices crying out in the night reminding you, it only takes a blink of an eye. They are you.

These are stories that must be told if we are to fully understand the tragedy of homelessness, beginning with mine, someone you know. Someone you have come to trust and love.

So I confess to you, that the hesitancy in writing is not because my any real hardship to me. I lived through this once and survived. I will survive the telling of it. The hesitancy is a mixture of things. Fear, first and foremost, but I know I must put those fears aside, for this is my testimony and I have heard loud and clear that after 30 years of only telling bits and pieces here and there, it's time to break the silence completely.

Secondly, I am a natural protector and when I hear just as I did years ago from my Auschwitz friend that my story made her cry, I want to protect you from the pain. But if I keep silent, then that one person who needs to know that there is hope, may miss out. My story may be what someone else needs to hear in order to take that first step to freedom. and if by my baring my soul will change the way the public sees the homeless, then I have done what God has asked me to do.

So I urge you to read all of them with an open mind. Although I believe that these tragedy's should not be kept from anyone, what happened to me and to others will be graphic at times so please use discretion when allowing your under aged children to read some of them.

Even in the telling of my story however, it's not really about me at all, but about the miracles and glory of a God who loved me unconditionally every step of the way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honesty and faithfulness Lynn! Still praying!

Stacy Phillips