I don’t know if you’ve seen, or have been a part of the black and white photo challenge on Facebook. I don’t usually get into things like that, but my Mom tagged me and challenged me to post one photo a day, black and white, no people, no explanation. I really like taking pictures so I thought, sure, this is something I can do.
And it sparked another idea. I see a lot of things on my way to work every day, and processing through all I see has not been easy. I have had trouble finding the right words or spaces to talk through it. I see a lot of things that are sad, unfair and out of control. But there are also very beautiful things among the hard stuff.
The idea is to post a photo of what I see and write a few thoughts about it. Process outloud in my blog a bit. Some photos might be beautiful, some might be sad – others might just be observations.
Here is my first photo and thoughts to go with it.
This was take on my walk to work last week. Everyday, I walk by many people sitting, sleeping, standing on the streets, obviously having a tough time at life.. Most likely they are homeless. They have some amount of belongings with them, in a cart or plastic bags.
Each person is different though. Their situation, circumstances, how they got there and where they are going. I want to help them all, or one, or do something that could make something better. But I don’t know what to do.
This was a young woman sitting on the ground near a parking garage. A cart full of things, important to someone sits in the road. I don’t know if it belongs to her. I want to say hello, ask if I can help, listen to her story, even if for just a moment. She is alone and today I think I will have the courage. Everyday I want to talk, help, listen, connect, anything to make someone’s day a little brighter. Most days I am too nervous. Mental illness, anger, or frustration often show in people’s actions and reactions on the streets. This time I think I can do it. And then I see that this time she is holding a knife. So again, I walk faster, nervously unsettled now for my walk that moments ago felt mostly safe.
How do you walk by people on the streets? What do you say or do? How do you make it feel ok to you? It doesn’t feel ok to me. Two years and counting I have lived in a place where homelessness, poverty, drug addiction and mental illness walk the streets. How do I go home to my safe, clean, warm home filled with food and all the comforts I need in the world, knowing so many people right in my own community are not.
How did we get here? How do so many people live like this. I know you see them. We all see them in our communities.
I can’t make it stop. I can’t even talk with one person. What do we do?
It’s not a new question. Other people must be talking about this, doing something, right? If I volunteer more, will that make it easier to walk by? If I give money to everyone I see (even though I know that’s not helpful) will it be ok?
But it’s not about me. I am not entitled to feel comfortable all the time.
I am uncomfortable. I am asking Jesus to meet me in this discomfort.
Where are you uncomfortable?