The weather here has been unseasonably warm the last week or so. I have even worn sandals to work and left my coat at home. The warm weather has also brought the homeless out once again. I pass them on the street corners where they sit with their cardboard signs written on with black permanent marker. Most say, “Hungry, homeless, anything helps, God bless” some say “Veteran” as well. I still try to have a piece of fruit to share, but if I don’t, I still smile and make eye contact–anything I can do so they know they have value.
A month ago, I noticed a grate blocking the space under the stairs at my parking garage where the homeless man had slept. It is still there, like a silent guard,to keep anyone from sleeping under the stairs.
Today at work, a company-wide correspondence went out about panhandling in the area around our building. Apparently, those in need were occasionally aggressive with the people they approached. Our company made a point that if we as employees felt inclined to give we should give through the proper channels. There are great organizations around that serve the needy and homeless, but somehow it feels like a brush off.
The notification made me sad. Yes, there are those who panhandle who may be dangerous, but it just seemed like we were to “cleanse” the area and not look at the human “blight” on the corner asking for help.
We have all stood on a street corner of some kind in our lives. We may have not have been homeless, but we may have felt unlovable, without hope, without the necessary things to sustain us. The difference is, everytime we stood there Jesus offered to us what He had–Himself.
And now we are to be His hands and feet. Whether we give out scarves, food, a smile, a blanket, whatever, to those in need– we continue the ministry He began, to love those who cannot offer anything in return but gratitude.