Tag Archives: Faith in Humanity

Mului…and a few other people


So first some brief introduction. Pictured above is three-quarters of our motley kitchen crew. From left-to-right: Adam, Elizabeth, myself, Mului, and Senait (absent are Dylan, Mohamad, and Leterbrahan). And even though this post is essentially about Mului, it is really–in the broader picture–about humanity. But I’m jumping ahead.

You may remember Mului from this Go Fund Me campaign I posted a little more than a year ago. I was trying to raise money to get him a bike. I had anticipated the campaign to take about a month…it took 20 minutes! No joke. I had to cut it off. The outpouring of human gratitude at the time quite literally brought tears to my eyes, and as I recall it now it still does.

I first met Mului through the International Institute of Buffalo when they assisted him in securing a job. Mului, along with Senait, Mohamad, and Leterbrahan are all from Eritrea, that small country just above Ethiopia. Over the years we’ve also employed people from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, the Congo, and Tanzania. As far as I know all of them had been refugees. And their personal stories are incredibly moving. It took Mului, for example, 5 attempts to cross the barren Sahara before he finally made it to a refugee camp in Israel. He nearly died and indeed lost family members along the way, either to the harsh dessert conditions or land pirates.

When Mului started with us he barely spoke English, but over the past year-and-a-half this has improved immensely. And during this time he has–on a dishwasher’s salary–supported his wife and two children. Over this time he had really become part of our kitchen family. So it was bittersweet the other day when we snapped this photo…it was on his last day of work with us. He has recently landed a factory job which nearly doubled his hourly pay. Before leaving he gave us plenty of notice and even found us his replacement and trained her.

Coincidentally, the factory in which Mului is now employed is also the same factory that for a while employed my father, who was the eldest first born son to immigrant parents. That was more than 40 years ago and, on the weekends when my dad would work extra hours cleaning, he would bring me with him on occasion to the factory. I have vague memories of following my dad around the stuffy factory offices on hot summer Sunday afternoons.

The reason I mention this is that we as Americans are often proud to proclaim our ethnicity and our family heritage–romanticizing what our parents and grandparents went through and where they hailed from–but at the same time sometimes shun the current wave of immigrants. Most American cities have ethnic neighborhoods and in Buffalo the most diverse these days is the West Side…Grant Street, for example, is lined with shops and restaurants offering goods and foods from the Far East and all points in Africa, and English certainly is the “second language” at times.

Ethnically speaking, I myself am Lebanese and German (with some French, I recently found out). But it is the Lebanese side that I have often Identified with. Mostly I think, because when I was a kid it was like something out of the movies (of course I didn’t think that then, but now I view it through Rockwellian rose-colored glasses). My dad and his brothers and sisters and all their families would congregate at our sitti’s house (grandmother’s house). There were tons of kids, my aunts were always in the kitchen, the table was always full, and the adults spoke Arabic more than they did English.

And this is what I see when I look at these newly arrived refugees. All that I have met and employed have been hard workers and extremely polite. They all are family oriented. They love to talk to me about their food. And they are all striving to earn American citizenship that I myself arrogantly take for granted. A simple Google search will reveal the very real reasons why they risk their lives to get inside our borders. In parallel, I suppose it is not unlike the reasons my family did the same thing about 100 years ago when the border was finally opened after the Famine of Mount Lebanon.

This current wave of immigrants is being called the “browning of America,” and I personally find the diversity exciting. And I know right now there is some white guy reading this and getting a little nervous. Ok, here’s something else…it’s predicted that within less than 30 years white folks will be the minority in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Yup true. And I also find this inspiring. I’m inspired when I look at the people, and talk to them, and hear their stories. But mostly I am inspired by their work ethic and family values. These are the faces of the future Americans. Mului tells me his older daughter already prefers to “speak American.,” even to her parents.

And so, while this post is about Mului, it’s also about humanity as a whole. We are one people, and whether we all like it or not, we also come in all different colors and speak many different languages, but we are still part of the same human race. So on this day, the day that this photo was taken, it was bittersweet. We were all happy for Mului because of his financial advancement, but we were also sorry to see him go. Good luck friend!

Urban Simplicity.

Weapons of Mass Instruction…

So this is pretty cool. And though the story is more than a month old I just came across it and had to share. The Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff was inspired (for World Book Day) to modify his 1979 Ford Falcon into a mock tank-like vehicle, but the weapons he carries are books…900 of them! He calls the books his Weapons of Mass Instruction and cruises through Argentina’s urban centers offering free books to anyone who wants one. The only requirement is that you promise to read it. This, to me, is really inspiring; it made my day. To read the full article and watch a short video of the artist click here (this is also where these photos were borrowed). If you’d like to read about other inspiring people that distribute books–but by bicycle–click any of the links on this page.

Urban Simplicity.

Weapons of Mass Instruction…

So this is pretty cool. And though the story is more than a month old I just came across it and had to share. The Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff was inspired (for World Book Day) to modify his 1979 Ford Falcon into a mock tank-like vehicle, but the weapons he carries are books…900 of them! He calls the books his Weapons of Mass Instruction and cruises through Argentina’s urban centers offering free books to anyone who wants one. The only requirement is that you promise to read it. This, to me, is really inspiring; it made my day. To read the full article and watch a short video of the artist click here (this is also where these photos were borrowed). If you’d like to read about other inspiring people that distribute books–but by bicycle–click any of the links on this page.

Urban Simplicity.

This is Qulee…

This is Qulee. He and I had coffee together this afternoon, but I have to tell you the back-story for this to have any significance.


I had just been to a beautiful worship service at the church of which I’m a member; it felt really good to be there because—for various reasons—I hadn’t been to worship in about a month. I had then stopped for a coffee afterward, as I often do. And as I was sitting enjoying my coffee and reading about a few continuing ed classes I may enroll in I noticed Qulee enter the store. The reason I noticed him is because when he came in he didn’t go to the counter and order anything, but instead sat down and started to have conversation with himself. I went back to reading.


About 10 minutes or so after this, Qulee says in a somewhat soft spoken way, “Hey mister, can you buy me a cup of coffee?” So there I am feeling warm and fuzzy from the aftereffects of a great worship service and reading about spiritual classes I want to take—I also know that I have a ten dollar bill in my wallet—and I am always spewing to anyone who will listen that we as humans are all equal and connected in some unfathomable way, and then someone with no money (I’m assuming) asks me to by them a cup of coffee.


This, I am fully aware, is a minor thing to some, but to me it is not. How could I possibly say no.


After getting him his coffee we went back to our chairs (not at the same table). I went back to reading. After a few minutes he then asks what I do for work. I work as a cook to support myself, I told him, but I’m also a writer, photographer, and minister; he seemed impressed. He then thanked for the forth time for buying his coffee. You’re very welcome, I told him, and then asked if I could take his photo and hear his story to post on my blog. He immediately jumped up, struck the pose in this photo, and said, “I’m naturally photogenic, what do you want to know?” And this is what I found out…


Qulee (not sure if I’m spelling it correctly) is a West African name, that’s where his father was from. He has been in a number of places, most recently in Los Angeles where he started having panic attacks and subsequently found it difficult to hold a job. He currently attends ECC full-time, but spoken word is his true passion. He went on to tell me that he wanted to use his spoken word poems as a way to connect and help others on the street and in the community. He also says that his panic attacks often affect his concentration and it pulls him off track, but he will keep trying because that’s really what he feels he was put in this place for, it’s what his personal mission is. He kept talking and talking—to the point that he apologized for talking—and finally I had to go.


It’s interesting, I think, the way chance encounters happen, but even more so, the circumstances in which we each find ourselves. Things that have happened in my life, for example—the good and the bad—have shaped me to be the person that I am today, just as your experiences have with you. And in this case, so too have they with Qulee. Before I left I told him that I truly hope that he finds the peace and solace to put what’s in his head and heart onto paper. I also asked him to remember me when he becomes famous. And with a big grin, he said he would.

Our Lady of the Blessed Cupcake…

It’s Easter Sunday and I didn’t go to church today, but I did last night. I along with a small group of people stood in the snow and passed out cupcakes in front of gay bars. But I’m jumping ahead, which I sometimes do; I’ll begin again.

I first heard of this event when it was posted on Facebook a few days ago; It was called the Christian Cupcake Mob (and was picked up by local and national media). It was spearheaded by Rev. Drew Ludwig, pastor at Lafayette Presbyterian Church, and backed by Rev. Kirk Laubenstein, Executive Director at Coalition for Economic Justice. It was their natural response as Christians to do something when they heard about the “religious freedom act” in Indiana which makes it legal for businesses to refuse a person solely on their sexual orientation. And I believe it began when a bakery refused to sell a gay couple a wedding cake, that it was somehow “un-Christian.” So last night—in a show of solidarity to our LGBT brothers and sisters—we stood in the pouring snow and handed out cake. No preaching. No attempted conversions. No strings attached. Just humans offering free cake to other humans (and laughs and conversation as well).

The event was filled with love and laughter (we had to have a sense of humor given the sudden incredible snow). This was a perfect example—whether certain people care to acknowledge it or notthat we are all children of the same divine source, and in fact connected to one another in some incomprehensible and unexplainable way. The lives of the LGBT community are just as sacred and equal as everyone else’s. And for the literalist out there, Jesus never refused anyone; he was about welcoming, not turning away. Christianity is based on inconclusiveness (no matter how it may get highjacked at times).

And so last night this was our church. This is what I thought as I looked around at all the shivering but smiling faces. What could be more sacred than the joyful acknowledgment and worship of the equal divinity in each other. So that is what we did…stood in the snow and handed out cupcakes. We talked, laughed, and a few hugged. But I couldn’t help think, as I watched the cupcakes being passed out, that in some casual way this in itself was some sort of Holy Communion. Instead of thin flavorless wafers that suck the spit out of your mouth, or even a loaf of bread, the Host on this night was a simple cupcake. If Jesus could ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (which was a political statement in itself), then his loving consciousness could be manifest through cake in front of a gay bar on a really snowy night. And the street was our altar.

“For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.”

Matthew 18:20

Our Lady of the Blessed Cupcake…

It’s Easter Sunday and I didn’t go to church today, but I did last night. I along with a small group of people stood in the snow and passed out cupcakes in front of gay bars. But I’m jumping ahead, which I sometimes do; I’ll begin again.
I first heard of this event when it was posted on Facebook a few days ago; it was called the Christian Cupcake Mob (and was picked up by local and national media). It was spearheaded by Rev. Drew Ludwig, Pastor at Lafayette Presbyterian Church, and backed by Rev. Kirk Laubenstein, Executive Director at Coalition for Economic Justice. It was their natural response as Christians to do something when they heard about the “religious freedom act” in Indiana which makes it legal for businesses to refuse a personsolely on their sexual orientation. And I believe it began when a bakery refused to sell a gay couple a wedding cake, that it was somehow “un-Christian.”So last night—in a show of solidarity to our LGBT brothers and sisters—we stood in the pouring snow and handed out cake. No preaching. No attempted conversions. No strings attached. Just humans offering free cake to other humans (and laughs and conversation as well).
The event was filled with love and laughter (we had to have a sense of humor given the sudden incredible snow). Thiswas a perfect example—whether certain people care to acknowledge it or notthat we are all children of the same divine source, and in fact connected to one another in some incomprehensible and unexplainable way. The lives of the LGBT community are just as sacred and equal as everyone else’s. And for the literalistout there, Jesus never refused anyone; he was about welcoming, not turning away. Christianity is based on inconclusiveness (no matter how it may get highjacked at times).
And so last night this was our church. This is what I thought as I looked around at all the shivering but smiling faces. What could be more sacred than the joyful acknowledgmentand worship of the equaldivinity in each other. So that is what we did…stood in the snow and handed out cupcakes. We talked, laughed, and a few hugged. But I couldn’t help think, as I watched the cupcakes being passed out, that in some casual way this in itself was some sort of Holy Communion. Instead of thin flavorless wafers that suckthe spit out of your mouth, or even a loaf of bread, the Host on this night was a simple cupcake. If Jesus could ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (which was a political statement in itself), then his loving consciousness could be manifest through cake in front of a gay bar on a really snowy night. And the street was our altar.
“For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.”
Matthew 18:20

Food Not Bombs!

As I rode my bike through downtown this morning I passed the good people from Food Not Bombs offering a free hot meal and free produce to anyone who needs it or would like it. They are in Lafayette Square every Monday and Saturday no matter the weather. With all the negative news in the press these days it is really heartwarming to see good people doing good (and asking nothing for it). For more information about Buffalo Food Not Bombs, click here or here.

Urban Simplicity.

Food Not Bombs!

As I rode my bike through downtown this morning I passed the good people from Food Not Bombs offering a free hot meal and free produce to anyone who needs it or would like it. They are in Lafayette Square every Monday and Saturday no matter the weather. With all the negative news in the press these days it is really heartwarming to see good people doing good (and asking nothing for it). For more information about Buffalo Food Not Bombs, click here or here.

Urban Simplicity.

This is Dan.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:35-36 

This is Dan. I met him on my way to work this morning. I was riding my bike and feeling a bit disgruntled…disgruntled that I had to work this morning. It was Sunday–Palm Sunday–and I was on my way to yet another day of rushing around a bustling kitchen. My whole career I’ve always disliked working Sundays. Anyhow, as I approached the corner of Allen and Franklin Streets in Buffalo I saw Dan. He was holding a piece of cardboard and written on it was “Homeless and Hungry.”  The traffic light was green and I was running late so I pedaled right past him. It was Sunday morning and there was no traffic anywhere…how long was he standing there in the cold I wondered? And who was he holding the sign for if there were no cars coming? Then I realized he held the sign up as I rode past, he was trying–without saying a word–to get my attention. I couldn’t keep going. I was about a city block ahead but I turned round. After introducing myself I asked if he wouldn’t mind telling me his story, and he did. It turns out that Dan is an experienced plumber. It’s embarrassing to ask for money, he said, but he has no other choice at this point. He was working and had purchased a house in Riverside (North Buffalo) that needed a lot of work, which he planned on doing himself while he lived in the apartment he was renting. Then one day while working on his house he herniated a disc in his back. I have done this as well and know how debilitating it can be. He couldn’t work because he was laid up. And while he was out of commission thieves went into his house and stripped it of all the new copper plumbing and wiring that he personally installed. To get to the point…he lost his job, his house, his apartment, and this is why he was standing on the corner this morning trying to get my attention with a sign. We talked a bit. He told me of his difficulties trying to find a place to sleep every night, and how hard it was being homeless last month (the coldest month on record…ever!). But he is resilient, he also said, and he will get back on his feet. He’s just got to start over, he added. After giving him a couple dollars I asked I could take his photo, he obliged. We shook hands and parted, and as I rode away I felt guilty for having too many options for work in my life. We all have issues, I know I certainly do. And if I were suddenly unable to work it would only be a month or two before I’d likely find myself in a similar situation. Dan seemed like a really nice guy who has fallen on some hard times, and he is no better or worse a person than I or you. Good luck Dan, I hope you make it, you are in my thoughts and prayers.To read previous posts on the Faces of Homelessness, click here. And if you have just over a minute of time you may find the below video interesting as well.

Urban Simplicity.

This is Dan.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Matthew 25:35-36 

This is Dan. I met him on my way to work this morning. I was riding my bike and feeling a bit disgruntled…disgruntled that I had to work this morning. It was Sunday–Palm Sunday–and I was on my way to yet another day of rushing around a bustling kitchen. My whole career I’ve always disliked working Sundays. Anyhow, as I approached the corner of Allen and Delaware in Buffalo I saw Dan. He was holding a piece of cardboard and written on it was “Homeless and Hungry.”  The traffic light was green and I was running late so I pedaled right past him. It was Sunday morning and there was no traffic anywhere…how long was he standing there in the cold I wondered? And who was he holding the sign for if there were no cars coming? Then I realized he held the sign up as I rode past, he was trying–without saying a word–to get my attention. I couldn’t keep going. I was about a city block ahead but I turned round. After introducing myself I asked if he wouldn’t mind telling me his story, and he did. It turns out that Dan is an experienced plumber. It’s embarrassing to ask for money, he said, but he has no other choice at this point. He was working and had purchased a house in Riverside (North Buffalo) that needed a lot of work, which he planned on doing himself while he lived in the apartment he was renting. Then one day while working on his house he herniated a disc in his back (I have done this as well and know how debilitating it can be). He couldn’t work because he was laid up. And while he was out of commission thieves went into his house and stripped it of all the new copper plumbing and wiring that he personally installed. To get to the point…he lost his job, his house, his apartment, and this is why he was standing on the corner this morning trying to get my attention with a sign. We talked a bit. He told me of his difficulties trying to find a place to sleep every night, and how hard it was being homeless last month (the coldest month on record…ever!). But he is resilient, he also said, and he will get back on his feet. He’s just got to start over, he added. After giving him a couple dollars I asked I could take his photo, he obliged. We shook hands and parted, and as I rode away I felt guilty for having too many options for work in my life. We all have issues, I know I certainly do. And if I were suddenly unable to work it would only be a month or two before I’d likely find myself in a similar situation. Dan seemed like a really nice guy who has fallen on some hard times, and he is no better or worse a person than I or you. Good luck Dan, I hope you make it, you are in my thoughts and prayers.To read previous posts on the Faces of Homelessness, click here. And if you have just over a minute of time you may find the below video interesting as well.

Urban Simplicity.

W.I.B.

Silence can be so powerful. These are just a few of the Women in Black (click here or here). Every Saturday they are there. Rain. Sleet. Snow. Bitter cold. Hot sun. They are there. 

And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.
  

Simon and Garfunkel

The Sound of Silence


Urban Simplicity.

W.I.B.

Silence can be so powerful. These are just a few of the Women in Black (click here or here). Every Saturday they are there. Rain. Sleet. Snow. Bitter cold. Hot sun. They are there. 

And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.
  

  
Simon and Garfunkel
The Sound of Silence 

Urban Simplicity.

Four faces, how a fifth one restores my faith in humanity, and a prophetic dream, too…

Image Credit

This post is another in an accidental series on the homeless I’ve been encountering in Buffalo (click here or here to read previous posts). I had written about this briefly on my Facebook page last night, but here’s the rest of the story. 

I had gone out for a long walk (4 miles), which I interspersed with beers (hey I get thirsty). And I was almost home. I just turned the corner onto Allen Street (which is the street adjacent to mine), had the Velvet Underground blasting in my headphones, when I stumbled upon—nearly tripped over—a women and three children sitting in a doorway. She was sitting in the doorway with her legs out on the sidewalk and two of her children—an infant and a toddler—where sleeping in her lap, while a boy of maybe 5 or 6 stood at her side. So surprised at this scene I walked past them for maybe 10 feet but I couldn’t keep going. I turned around. And what struck me was the look in the boy’s face; his eyes…they broke my heart. I went back and asked her if everything was ok. She wore African attire and had a thick accent but said everything was ok. I asked her if she had someplace to go or a place to sleep with her children, she shook her head no. In my head I panicked a little. What should I do, I wondered…there has to be an agency to contact. My first impulse was to just give her money, but then I remembered I only had a couple dollars left in my wallet. I couldn’t just walk away. But just as I was thinking this I heard a car door close. A women pulled over when she saw this same scene. She asked similar questions as I, then said with a certain authority (and urgency), as she reached to help the woman up with her children, “Tomorrow we will find you someplace to go. Tonight you are staying at my house where I have an extra bed for you and your kids, a shower if you’d like, and plenty of food.” They all got in her car and drove away. With all the incredibly bad news that the media presents to us (which they thrive on), instances like this truly restore my faith in humanity. This was such a beautiful sight to witness, but I really hope and pray that the family does find it’s way to comfort and safety.

Then, last night I must have been thinking of this when I lay down to bed because I had a night full of really crazy dreams. But in the one dream I dreamt that I was in fact homeless and asking people for money. And at one point in the dream I was in a large room and there was cash all over the floor but I couldn’t have any…there was a person with a vacuum vacuuming it all up. But then out of nowhere a women appeared, the same woman I witnessed help the family in the above story. She smiled at me, bent down and picked up an armful of money and handed it to me. She then turned to leave, and as she did I could see that she had wings on her back, angels wings. Am I crazy (likely a bit, yes) or did I witness an angel in our midst? I’ll let you do your own analyzing. 

Four faces, how a fifth one restores my faith in humanity, and a prophetic dream, too…

Image Credit 

This post is another in an accidental series on the homeless I’ve been encountering in Buffalo (click here or here to read previous posts). I had written about this briefly on my Facebook page last night, but here’s the rest of the story. 

I had gone out for a long walk (4 miles), which I interspersed with beers (hey I get thirsty). And I was almost home. I just turned the corner onto Allen Street (which is the street adjacent to mine), had the Velvet Underground blasting in my headphones, when I stumbled upon—nearly tripped over—a women and three children sitting in a doorway. She was sitting in the doorway with her legs out on the sidewalk and two of her children—an infant and a toddler—where sleeping in her lap, while a boy of maybe 5 or 6 stood at her side. So surprised at this scene I walked past them for maybe 10 feet but I couldn’t keep going. I turned around. And what struck me was the look in the boy’s face; his eyes…they broke my heart. I went back and asked her if everything was ok. She wore African attire and had a thick accent but said everything was ok. I asked her if she had someplace to go or a place to sleep with her children, she shook her head no. In my head I panicked a little. What should I do, I wondered…there has to be an agency to contact. My first impulse was to just give her money, but then I remembered I only had a couple dollars left in my wallet. I couldn’t just walk away. But just as I was thinking this I heard a car door close. A women pulled over when she saw this same scene. She asked similar questions as I, then said with a certain authority (and urgency), as she reached to help the woman up with her children, “Tomorrow we will find you someplace to go. Tonight you are staying at my house where I have an extra bed for you and your kids, a shower if you’d like, and plenty of food.” They all got in her car and drove away. With all the incredibly bad news that the media presents to us (which they thrive on), instances like this truly restore my faith in humanity. This was such a beautiful sight to witness, but I really hope and pray that the family does find it’s way to comfort and safety. 

Then, last night I must have been thinking of this when I lay down to bed because I had a night full of really crazy dreams. But in the one dream I dreamt that I was in fact homeless and asking people for money. And at one point in the dream I was in a large room and there was cash all over the floor but I couldn’t have any…there was a person with a vacuum vacuuming it all up. But then out of nowhere a women appeared, the same woman I witnessed help the family in the above story. She smiled at me, bent down and picked up an armful of money and handed it to me. She then turned to leave, and as she did I could see that she had wings on her back, angels wings. Am I crazy (likely a bit, yes) or did I witness an angel in our midst? I’ll let you do your own analyzing

Five or Seven Quotes from Malala Yousafzai

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced”

“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.”

“I don’t want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for sons and daughters of the Taliban.”

“The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. they are afraid of women.”

“I raise up my voice-not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”

“I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”

“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

More Five Quotes.

Five or Seven Quotes from Malala Yousafzai

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced”
“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.”
“I don’t want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for sons and daughters of the Taliban.”
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. they are afraid of women.”
“I raise up my voice-not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”
“I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”
“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”
More Five Quotes.

Another face, another very real story…

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:35-36

This post is a continuation of one I wrote nearly a month ago regarding the homeless in our city (click here to read it). In that post I mentioned witnessing a women being verbally abused while asking a group of young party goers for some spare change, and also of a man I spoke with who asked me for money on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He told me that he worked full-time (for minimum wage) but still had to beg on the street to support himself. The image above is of Sarah. I met her today while out on my bike. When I saw her sign it was as if my bike stopped itself. After giving her some cash she seemed a bit apprehensive when I asked her if I could take her photo. I told her that I have a blog, work as a chef, and am also an interfaith minister…she then looked at me like I was a bit crazy (and rightly so). Anyhow, we both relaxed and we had a nice but brief chat, this is her story. She’s a single mom just as the sign reads. She and her daughter are currently squatting in an undisclosed vacant house with a few other people. They eat mainly at food pantries and with money she earns on the street. She became homeless after her father–in an alcoholic rage–through her and his grand daughter out in the middle of the night. She has had difficulty getting/holding a job because she suffers from crohn’s disease and is concerned about her daughter’s safety. I have always been moved by seeing people on the street. And as a person of faith I literally cannot help but respond. But in my own personal view I am not doing enough. While I believe that all faiths speak the same truth, I call myself a Christian. And to me, being a Christian is not just about going to church on Sunday mornings, it is a call to action. If I truly were to live out the gospel I would have emptied my wallet to Sarah (OK, I nearly did…but trust me it wasn’t much; I rarely have more than a few dollars on me), or I would have helped in other ways. Tonight when I lay my head on my pillow in my own home with a full belly Sarah and her daughter will be in an abandoned home somewhere. And yes, I am fully aware that she and others I have spoken with and given cash to may be making this all up, that they may in fact be asking for money to support a drug or alcohol habit. But then again, maybe they are not. And if they are not I can’t he;p but wonder how I couldn’t be doing more. Because seriously, as you read this, think about it…what if their stories are true. I’ll get off my little soapbox now, but not before I ask you to watch the below video (it’s only a little over a minute long).

Urban Simplicity.

Another face, another very real story…

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Matthew 25:35-36

This post is a continuation of one I wrote nearly a month ago regarding the homeless in our city (click here to read it). In that post I mentioned witnessing a women being verbally abused while asking a group of young party goers for some spare change, and also of a man I spoke with who asked me for money on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He told me that he worked full-time (for minimum wage) but still had to beg on the street to support himself. The image above is of Sarah. I met her today while out on my bike. When I saw her sign it was as if my bike stopped itself. After giving her some cash she seemed a bit apprehensive when I asked her if I could take her photo. I told her that I have a blog, work as a chef, and am also an interfaith minister…she then looked at me like I was a bit crazy (and rightly so). Anyhow, we both relaxed and we had a nice but brief chat, this is her story. She’s a single mom just as the sign reads. She and her daughter are currently squatting in an undisclosed vacant house with a few other people. They eat mainly at food pantries and with money she earns on the street. She became homeless after her father–in an alcoholic rage–threw her and his grand daughter out in the middle of the night. She has had difficulty getting/holding a job because she suffers from crohn’s disease and is concerned about her daughter’s safety. I have always been moved by seeing people on the street. And as a person of faith I literally cannot help but respond. But in my own personal view I am not doing enough. While I believe that all faiths speak the same truth, I call myself a Christian. And to me, being a Christian is not just about going to church on Sunday mornings, it is a call to action. If I truly were to live out the gospel I would have emptied my wallet to Sarah (OK, I nearly did…but trust me it wasn’t much; I rarely have more than a few dollars on me), or I would have helped in other ways. Tonight when I lay my head on my pillow in my own home with a full belly Sarah and her daughter will be in an abandoned home somewhere. And yes, I am fully aware that she and others I have spoken with and given cash to may be making this all up, that they may in fact be asking for money to support a drug or alcohol habit. But then again, maybe they are not. And if they are not I can’t help but wonder how I couldn’t be doing more. Because seriously, as you read this, think about it…what if their stories are true. I’ll get off my little soapbox now, but not before I ask you to watch the below video (it’s only a little over a minute long).

Urban Simplicity.