kathyescobar incarnational, spiritual formation 11 Comments

i am journeying through christine sine’s lenten guide on the road toward easter.  it has some really beautiful stuff in it!  week one was a journey into brokenness & i wrote on the difference between “i suck” and a truly humble heart. week two was a journey into hunger. this week is a journey into homelessness.   i can not for even a  minute speak into what it feels like to be without an actual roof over my head.  i have always had the luxury and gift of a bed to sleep on, a home to live in, hot water, and food on the table.   but a little like i communicated in last week’s hunger blog, i do think there is a homelessness in a physical sense and homelessness in a spiritual and emotional sense.  the problem of practical living-life-without-a-roof-over-ones-head is real.  the stats are staggering & i believe they will continue to get higher.  my dear friends ken & jessica at home-pdx and robbie, matt, nikki & crew at dry bones denver are deeply dedicated to live and love in community with friends who “live outside.”  they are some of the most powerful examples of incarnational in-the-trenches-love that i have ever seen (and if you ever want to give money to someone, give it to them!)

the refuge community is in the ‘burbs, so our issue with homelessness looks different.  as you all well know, we are a poor community.  we don’t have too many two-good-incomes-and-a-high-value-on-giving-away-10%-of-all-that-money-to-help-us-do-this-crazy-thing folks.   while none of our friends necessarily live on the streets (maybe in their car now and then), we have many who are continually transient, always behind on rent, never able to catch up, always wandering and never able to get enough stability to really get on their feet.  it’s an ongoing cycle that without love, support, care, education, and a lot of work will likely continue.  we all know that with the current economic state of affairs this population of working poor is only going to grow.

as a friend on the journey, sometimes honestly i feel completely and utterly powerless, helpless, and just-plain-mad at the messed up distribution of resources, not only in the “world” but also in “the church.”  i know that’s a different conversation, but a little like hunger & the issues of food–it is not because the resources aren’t there, it’s because the resources are not properly distributed. and for us, as christ-followers, it’s so worth considering:  how can i participate in better redistribution of my current resource? how can we use what we have to help fund, support, encourage actual advocacy & co-housing & food & other very practical things for people who need it? (instead of dumping my money & time & energy in a direction that feeds a machine and not necessarily people)

in the many reflections christine shared in her guide, the one prevailing thought i had was how even though actual physical homelessness might not be prevalent for most of us reading this blog,  spiritual/emotional homelessness might be. like the changing economy, we are all aware that there’s currently a shifting spiritual landscape.  we have a whole crop of folks who “lost their homes” when their faith shifted; what once safely protected them and seemed solid, sure, of durable construction, somehow got ripped off and hurled away, a little like dorothy’s house in a wizard of oz.  i also think there are so many others out there who grew up in difficult homes where there might have been beds, walls, and a roof, but no sense of belonging and safety.  and in the spirit of identifying with Jesus, this is where those of us who are displaced-homeless-exiles-refugees might find a sense of belonging.  as he left home & entered into his public ministry, Jesus had “no place to lay his head.”  but his life was filled with friends and relationships and interactions with crazy people and weird parties and a deep, passionate, intimate connection with God, the Father.

there is a whole desperate world out there, right in our own backyards no matter how rich or poor our neighborhoods might be, that is homeless & yearning for “home.” and i think “home” can be created in ways that have nothing to do with 4 walls and a roof:

home is somehow our hearts being connected to each other in a tangible way.

home is a relationship that restores dignity & beauty & value where there once was none.

home is a shared meal and a meaningful conversation about God & life that stirs our soul.

home is the safety of showing the reality of the brokenness in our lives and having people not ditch us.

home is a shared experience that makes us think.

home is a desperate hug reciprocated.

home is a group of people “where everybody knows your name & everybody’s glad you came.”

home is a place to bring a small portion of what we have to combine it with other people’s small portion and discover that somehow we all leave full.

home is some weird crazy sense that God is in our hearts and will never leave us, no matter how dark it gets.

imagine what could happen if the body of Christ spent time building these kinds of homes instead of the ones that require a church consultant and an architect?

i’ll end with this excerpt from christine’s beautiful prayer in the lenten guide for this week.

God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

God, who was despised, rejected, and spat upon by those in authority,

comfort all who are cast by the wayside and ignored today.

God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

God who offers abundance and plenty where we expect scarcity,

provide for all those who are hungry and in need of food today.

God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

God who promises security and safety when we expect turmoil,

Provide for all who have lost jobs and are forced into homelessness today.

God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

God who grants us rest in face of our fears and anxieties

Provide for all those who are anxious about finances today.

God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

God who provides community for all who are alone and abandoned,

provide for all who feel abandoned and uncared for in these troubled times.

God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

God, you see the unlovely in all of us, yet you still love us.  open our eyes so that we can see beauty in all people and practice your hospitality…”

i’d love to hear some of your thoughts on “homelessness.”