Reflections on a Cold Day

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This is by James Lopez Ericksen, who has been helping us out at Anawim in St. Johns.

Last Sunday was a cold, wet, windy day.

At one o-clock every Sunday a few of us will gather to eat warm food, ask how we are all doing, listen for a response, worship and read scripture. Out on the St. Johns trail with the Anawim Christian Community, one gentleman who has lived in a tent for several months asked me, “Why do people hate the homeless?” He shared further his thoughts about being mistreated, cast aside, and ignored.

I love questions. I loved his question that drew me into his world and caused me to think about the experiences of the homeless in our city. His question made me reflect on how powerful images are and one powerful act that requires courage.

I shared that one of the most courageous things we can all do is stare in a mirror for five minutes, look closely at the details of what we see and delight in that image. When we have an image which threatens us, makes us feel vulnerable, we naturally want to remove, get rid of that image. The homeless can be dirty, wet, cold, hungry, in need of shelter, and like all of us, in need of love. The image of a homeless person wearing layered clothing, wet, haggard, feels threatening in a world where we have so much. That image reminds us of our own selfishness.

But, maybe that image of the woman who waits in line for a meal, stands on the street corner asking for change can draw us to generosity, gratitude. A place where abundance means we have just enough, and the rest, we can share. That image too often of the homeless feels so threatening the city will send out police to remove “them.”

Can we trust in a God who stands with all of us, inviting us to see Him in the homeless? It requires courage to look in the mirror, and to trust that God delights in what we see. And the same God, who created us in His image, delights in the homeless.

I am truly honored to share two hours every week and serve with the Anawim Christian Community out on the St. Johns trail.

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