|View of Colorado Blvd, A. Hanson 2011|
The picture in this post was from my Colorado Blvd apartment building. Just a few blocks to the north of my apartment was the intersection of Colorado and Colfax. There was always someone on that corner with a sign asking for money.
Even for all the years that I worked in homeless services, I still turned away from these signs and did not meet the eyes of those asking for money while flying cardboard signs. Part of this was evolved street smarts from living in a city, part of it was self-interest, part of it is undoubtedly judging those people who are holding the signs, but most of it was mortification and pain that I just felt overwhelmed by the problems of poverty and homelessness. I was closer to this than most people, I worked at a homeless shelter, I did case management, I worked in a food bank, I had friendships with people who were homeless. Yet I still had that lump in my throat that was hard to work around.
There is an attitude among many people that those men and women who hold the signs are only using the money to buy drugs and alcohol. Which is probably partially true and I don't deny that. My reluctance to look these people in the eye and turn away from their need is a temptation to stay ignorant about their humanity. And that cuts me to the bone. It means that anyone could end up homeless and lose their dignity.
Dear Lord, in this season of Lent, please break our hardened hearts that we might more fully love others as you love them. Amen.