Monday, October 12, 2009

The Homeless: Teachers For Each of Us

Some of the most amazing teachers that I have encountered in my life have been the homeless. People with little or no material possessions, and many who are in great pain, living on the streets of America.

While most of us scurry by these people, afraid of their presence, many other people look upon them with kindness and compassion, very much in the same way that Buddha or Jesus Christ would. There is little or no fear , rather a desire to help them, by offering a kind word, food, pocket change or a smile.

In my lectures on personal growth as well as in sermons, I encourage people to practice sending love to everyone, including the homeless, by looking INTO their eyes as you pass them. They, like you, are children of God, who desire and should receive the same respect as anyone else you might know. Yet how many of us have the courage to do this?

I have been taught so many incredible lessons through the homeless men that I have met on the streets over the past number of years. One named Joe, touched me so deeply that I dedicated a chapter about him in my book "Heaven on Earth:God Speaks Through The Heart of A Young Monk. " While out for a run one day, I witnessed Joe getting hit by a car, fly 20 feet straight up in the air before landing on the side of the road.

As the first person to him, I held him like a mother would hold their child as he wailed in pain until the ambulance would arrive more than 10 minutes later. I saw the face of Christ as I held him, asking him to grip my hand tighter as his pain continued to increase. He shattered my view of what a homeless person was, as I saw the pure beauty of this amazing human being.I visited him in the hospital after surgery, in the rehabilitation center after that, and discovered his trials in life of alcoholism and the loss of contact with his children. I brought him food and clothes not out of guilt, but rather out of respect, for he deserved that regardless of why he was homeless. I found out that the day he was hit he had just gotten a part time job, the first one he could find in a number of years.

That same year I was invited to be on Bill O'Reilly's television show "The O'Reilly Factor" to talk about the plight of the homeless, the challenges they bring to many city businesses and what some options were for their welfare. As many know, some cities have facilities that are underutilized by the homeless, while others are swamped with requests for more beds and shelters.

Many are homeless by choice, with no desire to seek treatment for their addictions. Others find themselves in this situation due to untreated mental illness, without the mental faculties needed to lift themselves out of their life quandary. If you have not seen the movie "The Soloist",based on a true story, I highly recommend it as a peek into the role of mental illness and the homeless. And others find themselves there due to losing jobs, their homes and their life purpose.

Whatever the reason for their situation, we can all learn from these people the power of love and compassion, but only if we are the ones willing to give these two characteristics to them, as they are very much a reflection of who we are.

If you cannot do this, it may be time to take a good , hard, long look in the mirror.Slow down to see that yes, the homeless are teachers for each of us.

Love, peace, Rev. David

Thursday, October 8, 2009