“Why are you giving this to me in this place? Can’t you see there are people I know around here?” – R replied as we are standing in an underground food court.
My friend was holding a sleeping bag that was for R. He was offended.
A good lesson on dignity. No one enjoys being a charity case. Nor do anyone wants to look down upon.
We pulled a chair over and chatted with R. He showed us some of the pictures he took. The Cavalcade of Lights. Great camera! The various things he had to dealt with living in the streets.
It is almost a year since I met R. I told my friend I tried not to treat this as a program or work. This is like going out with a friend. The exception is that this friend is not within my social circle. The exception is that none of my friend lived on the street. At the same time, I do not know too many people who have such care free lives.
I know very little of R. I pick up pieces here and there every time we talk. He ain’t a case I am studying. This ain’t homework. I ain’t here to gather facts. At the same time, I ain’t here to fix his life. That’s not my job. It’s His. Besides, I know I do not have the resources to do so. Knowing R, he probably want to do it his own way.
Today, he shared about how he lost his legs. He talked about the experience he had at the hospital. How he was suffering second and third degree burn to his legs. He was ready to go. Then the nurse didn’t changed his dressing and he suffered gangrene. That’s when he had to amputate his legs. The doctor didn’t do a good job and he was bleeding afterwards and almost died.
It is a sad story. I am sad hearing this. I am also angry. Do I believe this is all truth? I don’t know. Part of me do not. Though I believe what R said.
He then went on talking about the slow response of our social service. It took him a few months to get a motorized wheelchair.
Later, we showed him the sleeping bag. It was too small for him. I told him I would go and exchange a bigger one for him.
R then talked about how he hated it when people come and asked him why he didn’t go indoor. He said that he hated to be looked like they are homeless. Sometimes I use this term, homeless, so loosely. To describe a group of people. Perhaps in the using this word, I place him in a group of people which the society so easily neglect nor concern about.
I often shake in disbelief in the affluent society that I live in people struggling to survive. Sure, I heard that if people needed help they can get help. And I am also sure that some people chose to live on the street. Yet, when I look around, I am sad. Sad to see people huddle in the cold. In vents in the streets. With little to eat.
When Jesus talked about loving our neighbors as ourselves, He also mention about feeding those who are hungry and dressing those who are naked (Matthew 25). Sometimes I think that’s easy to do good. I can drop a sleeping bag to R and then move on. Clearly this is good. However, is it loving?
The irony about the goats in Matthew 25 is that the least were right in front of their eyes and they cannot see.
I learnt a lesson on dignity today. One that I will keep.
I told R that I got the sleeping bag for him because it is FREAKING cold (not just cold but freaking cold). The weather tonight is -20 plus (or minus!). That’s cold.
So I pray for R. That the Lord will continue go after his heart. That despite the circumstance, he will find joy and peace through our Saviour.
And I long for the day to come. The day when there is no more suffering. The new heaven and new earth. The Kingdom of God…
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:25 NIV)