Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Choosing Not To Look Away

Choosing Not To Look Away

Homeless people are a fact of life.

They live in large cities, such as Manhattan in New York, and in small towns such as my little Mount Pocono in Pennsylvania.

It has been said that most of us are two paychecks away from homeless.

I took dinner with a very special friend of mine last week.

I enjoy my time with him. He is very special, and I believe that he knows that.

He is intelligent, caring, and no doubt guided in his eternal quest for peace, justice, and what I would call, balance.

He reminded me of a tremendous concern that we are called to tend to.


I did not ask if I might share what he wrote, but I know that he will not mind.

He recently posted some very dramatic commentary on an online "FaceBook" of a difficult evening he had, an Epiphany if you will, in which he encountered a homeless person while in transit and saw the great need and impact.

It was quite clear that he was upset, and it remains in my heart that, even at our dinner, this still disturbed him.

Good for him. We should all be so disturbed.

So often, the homeless are unrecognizable to us, and we walk past them daily never remembering their precise looks.

Therefore, it is possible that God can come to us as one of these many homeless people who ask for a moment.

Of course I believe that God exists within everyone and every thing, and my friend & I studied that concept as well during our evening.

So, I thought about this for a while, and I reflected upon the many different ways that we perceive the "beggars" who ask for compassion.

It has been said that God's call to us to become evangelists is simply "one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread".

Aren't we all in the same place, and do we not see that in the hearts of such catastrophies as the Tsunami, Katrina, and the events in Haiti?

We often ask why God would allow these events to happen, but we never pause to realize the pain that God feels as we suffer, knowing that there is an eternal peace.

Many of us don’t know how to interpret these situations or what we can do to help.

We may vacillate between feeling guilty, as if we are personally responsible, and feeling angry, as if it is entirely on their own shoulders.

The situation is, of course, far more complex than either scenario. Still, not knowing how to respond, we may fall into the habit of not responding at all. We may look over the heads of the homeless and needing, not making eye contact, or down at the ground as we pass, falling into a habit of ignoring them.

Each time that we do this, we disconnect ourselves from a large portion of the human family, and it just doesn’t feel right.

Most of us know in our hearts that the homeless and the needing are not so very different from us ... nor are we far away from the situation in which they have landed.

They may be the victims of poor planning or an unavoidable crisis.

Some might be mentally compromised or challenged, some might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some might actuallty choose to be homeless for reasons we may never understand.

We might find that difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend.

Given the way that our lives grow, we could likely be in the same situation.

This does not mean that we are meant to "rescue" them, as they are on their own learning path, but it does remind us that we are called to treat them as equals, because that is what they are, and to assit them along their way, which is the same "way" or "path" that we are called upon.

Even if we are not able to offer food, shelter, or money, we can offer a blessing as we pass.

We can look them in the eye and acknowledge our shared human-kindness, even if we don’t know just how to help them.

That is simply what we are called to do as children of God.

This simple act of kindness and silent or spoken blessings can be so helpful to those living on the street.

If you want to help with information, you can learn about the services in your area and share the locations of food banks, shelters, and other resources. Perhaps your family would like to have a plan ahead of time, talking with your children about how as a family you would like to handle these situations.

Whatever you decide to do, you will feel much better when you make a conscious choice not to simply look away.

So I ask that you follow what my dear friend did, and bring that homeless person home with you --- in heart, in mind, and in spirit.

Thank you, Jeremy, for a precious lesson for us all.

Essentially, this is an act of unconditional love.

So, we know what unconditional means ... but how do we define love?

Love is often presented as the opposite of fear, or of hate, but true love is not opposite anything.

True love exists alone and is the one essence that can never be touched by evil.

True love is far more powerful than any negative emotions, as it is the environment in which all things arise.

True love truly conquers all.

Negative emotions are like sharks swimming within the ocean of love, but those ocean waters are essential to our being.

All things, beautiful and fearful, ugly and kind, powerful and small, come into existence, do their thing, and disappear within the context of this great ocean.

At the same time, they are made of the very love in which they swim and can never be separated.

It is when we accept these struggles within ourselves that we grow in love, and in human kindness.

We are made of this love and live our whole lives at one with it, whether we realize it or not.

It is only the illusion that we are separate from this great love that causes us to believe that choosing anything other than love makes sense or is even possible.

In the relative, dualistic world of positive and negative, darkness and light, male and female, we make choices and we learn from them.

This is exactly what we are called to do here on earth.

Underlying these relative choices, however, is the choice to be conscious of what we are, which is love, or to be unconscious of it.

When we choose to be conscious of it, we choose love.

We will still exist in the relative world of opposites and choices and cause and effect, and we will need to make our way here, but doing so with an awareness that we are all made of this love will enable us to be more playful, more joyful, more loving and wise, as we make our way.

Ultimately, the choices we make will shed light on the love that makes us all one, enabling those who have forgotten to return to the source.

This world makes it easy to forget this great love, which is part of why we are here. We are here to remember and, when we forget to remember again, to choose love.

So, when you see a person who is homeless, or less fortunate in the way of opportunity, love them. as you yourself ... as my friend Jeremy loves those he encounters.

Bring them home with you in your mind and embrace them, because they might just be --
no ... they are God.

Wishing all of us to come to be together in the way that God wants us to be,
and with truly unconditional love & uncompromised light,


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