Thought for the day: Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose--- not the one you began with perhaps, but one you'll be glad to remember. [Annie Sullivan]
First off, thanks to Suze for hosting this False Start Friday challenge to nudge some of us to do just that. For this first week, I'm pulling out something I wrote in the late eighties or so, when I was even more of a bleeding heart than I am now. Hope ya like it. If not, be kind. Poor thing's been shoved in the back of a drawer for a long time...
They shuffle along in single file, these people that society tries to forget. When herded together into one faceless crowd and labeled the homeless, it is surely easier for society to forget them. It's not so easy for me, for I've seen their faces and touched their hands. It's painfully hard to remember and impossibly hard to forget the individual faces.
One by one, they pass, their hands reaching out for a plate of hot food. Some hands tremble and shake perceptibly; others, roughened by years of hard work, remain comparatively steady. Many hands have thick yellow nails, stained by years of nicotine addiction. Some of the people shamble along slowly, shoulders stooped and eyes downcast. It's as though they've swallowed the poisonous propaganda that deems them less than human. Others manage to maintain their dignity, and walk with shoulders back and a ready smile upon their lips. And still others exude such hostility and anger, it's almost palpable.
Many of them are regular visitors to the soup kitchen. They remember me, and shout a greeting my way. I stop and chat and laugh with them as I go among the tables, pouring coffee. I see men, women, and children of all races and ages. Some are very ill, either physically or mentally. One man grabs me each time I pass and begs me to pray for him. He babbles on almost incoherently about countless unseen assailants who are out to get him, but he always says very clearly, "Pray for me." Some of these people reek of alcohol and vomit, or are strung out on some kind of drug. Several men have told me that they have AIDS.
Some complain about the food; others are humbly grateful, and bow their heads for a moment before they eat. Some are openly belligerent, and throw angry curses often, and a fist or chair occasionally; others laugh and flirt with me, and gather around the piano to sing.
Most of them are dirty, and their smells are offensive. Their teeth may be rotted, their hair may be tangled, and their clothes may be ragged. But above all else, they are all people. They all deserve to be treated with respect and human dignity. The homeless are not a faceless mass of humanity. They have very real, very individual faces. And that face, but for the grace of God, could be yours. Or mine.
Interested in rescuing one of your long-lost gems and posting it next Friday? Let Suze know on her blog, and you'll be good to go. Subliminal Coffee (the thinking person's cafe)
Until next time, take care of yourself. And each other.