This past week was an intense time of listening to music, resting, reading, and reflection. Spring semester is nearing its end and Spring break was very much needed to "refuel and re-tool." I caught up and chilled with a few friends. We sat in restaurants and talked about life, challenges, transitions, change. Our conversations touched on a variety of topics from social to political, from local to global. We talked about difficulties, painful life events, blessings, and the desire to positively touch others' lives.
One friend is Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas. She is also a chaplain, blogger on spirituality in contemporary society,
and a poet. http://womenwhospeakinchurch.com/contribute/kelli-parrish-lucas/
She is married to Ed, a musician who has been blogging since before it became popular. http://tapkae.com/
Kelli, and I have known each other for a long time and share concerns about people's lives and challenges. Our hearts laughed cried together as we wished we could do more to reach out to those in need.
Walking the downtown business district streets after fellowship with friends is on of my favorite activities. I usually get restless, need to be among the people we discuss, to put a face on the issue. During this semester break, I again roamed among people that many would rather forget. Research and work on my second book could wait for a few days . . . I talked to several of our "urban campers" and "urban transitionals" -----San Diego streets are filled with "semi-homeless," "serial homeless," elderly homeless, juvenile homeless . . . souls in crisis of all ages. It may have been a day during Spring break for me, but for many of them, it was another day of being on the street or in temporary shelter. For some, it was another daytime to look for work and to return to a single room apartment with shared bathrooms, or a neighbor or family member's couch. For far too many, it was a time to rest on the sidewalk, or a building side in the shade to sleep.
A brief reflection . . . . . . . .
So much of our twenty first century world seems in the middle of some sort of natural disaster, climactic or geological calamity in addition to war, poverty, illness, and hunger. California seems to have a lot of social programs, but many are straining financially to address people's needs. And yes, people do "fall through the cracks." Especially the street illusive children that haunt our urban terrain. So many are suffering as I write.
Today, I still wonder if some of San Diego's street people are migrating homeless from "disaster areas." If they left behind relatives they want to help but are or feel unable to contribute to others' rebuilding or recovery. I wonder if the ones who seem to have disappeared for several weeks and are again in their usual spots had managed to go "back home" to be with loved ones.
I am too timid to ask, but do talk about their lives and struggles; it has taken a long time for them to open up and talk with me. It has been more than a year of respecting their space to be, of carefully building trust. For some, I have learned that asking about current living conditions, family or close friends is often a sensitive. For others, asking is too much prying into their personal life and sharing is not an option. A few street musicians and artists share life stories, their artwork and their aesthetic values despite challenges.
So far, Southern California has seen little of the nation's troubles in the last few years. We are working on affordable housing, unemployment, homelessness, our financial problems. Many San Diegans are serious about caring for people's life quality. And although we do face drought conditions, we have not had to survive a major natural disaster that could possibly push our relief programs for those who need it most beyond their capacity to function effectively.
Southern Californians in general may seem immune to the nation's weather and geological woes, yet, as we feel earthquake tremors shaking softly beneath our feet, our surface frivolity of "sand, sun, and shopping sprees," fades into a pro-active awareness for future preparedness. Folks are wondering . . .When will the next wildfire or earthquake hit? How will we respond? Will we have the local resources to help ourselves, or will we strain the national help organizations already staggering under demand to service tremendous need? How will we, San Diego, as a community reach out to neighbors?
This is the time to thank local, national, and global Philanthropists with deep money pockets for continuing to silently donate money to the Red Cross, United Way and other organizations.
This is also the time to thank hundreds of volunteers from every age group and ethnicity who are in the trenches of tragedy giving time, a shoulder to cry on, rebuilding advice, emotional restoration, and spiritual comfort, showing mercy to those in need who can not give back. May you be blessed: Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."
To you recovering from disasters and crisis, people do care and think of you . . . . Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." I pray that your future will overflow with blessing and healing.
Thinking about people,