I was excited to go down and see my friends without homes Sunday. It was the end of the month so there were more people than usual, I would have to say no less than two hundred people there. The moment I stepped out of my truck, it was like stepping into the crashing waves of the ocean. A wave of people just coming at you, all wanting your attention, all in their own way saying look at me, do you see me. A half a dozen people would be trying to talk to you at the same time and each just wanting that individual attention. Even through the crashing waves though, you would catch a glance at that one who was lost among the waves, one that didn’t clamor for attention, but needed to be seen. The one that says I am drowning out here and I need someone to rescue me.
As I stood among this crowd of people, trying desperately to give each some attention, I looked up and saw Chris hanging back in the crowd. Chris I met last year, he now has his own place and has been off the streets for three or four months now. He has no close friends and the only family he is close to, is his brother in-law Mike who has cancer, so when he needs someone to talk too, he comes to the park and we talk. The look on his face told me something was wrong. I made my way over to him and asked what is wrong? He could barely get the words out before he broke down and cried. Mike the one person whom he was close to had passed away. I held him as he cried and I cried with him, I did not know Mike, but we stood there together crying and mourning his loved ones death. We sat and talked for a long time. We talked about Mike and the feelings Chris was going thru. He is a recovering alcoholic and he said he almost went drinking, but decided to come down to the park instead. I am so grateful that he did. He left shortly after we talked. I called him today and will continue to check in on him.
I found my way to a picnic table and was joking and talking to a group that is regulars down there. As I sat there, there was a line of people lined up for the feed, through the line I would catch a glance of someone sitting alone on the other side of the park. I finally recognized who it was; out of respect for her I will call her Mary. Even in a park full of hurting and rejected people of our society, there are those who are even rejected by them. Mary is one of those. Mary (who is really Mark) sits alone; she desperately seeks acceptance and friendship, but sits alone. I excused myself from the table and walked over to Mary. I sat down, gave her a hug and asked how she was doing? I asked her to please come and join us at the table we were sitting at, after a little hesitation she finally agreed, so we walked back together and joined the others. We all talked, laughed and shared with each other. When we all left, there were hugs to go around and I love you’s.
I was so grateful that even through this ocean of people, I could hear those who did not just want attention, but were saying “I really do need someone today”. I am grateful that Chris chose to come down and talk and not drink. I am grateful that I was able to see among all the others, Mary who sat alone, and hopefully made her feel loved that day. At least now, I hope she will know that she will never have to sit alone again and she has a friend. There were more stories like this that day, people who don’t cry out as loud as the others and get drowned out by the roar of the ocean. As each week passes I hope to see and love on all my friends in the park, but I hope to able to continue seeing past the waves to the one who is truly saying “I need someone to see me today”! Our words and actions have power and you may never know how a small act of kindness or a loving word may change the course of someone’s day.
Side note: Terrica you were missed by those in the park this week. You loved on them and they remembered that. I assured them you would be back and they all said to tell you “Hello”.
HELP!: Big Changes at HOMEpdx
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