"Simon" has been living in the homeless community for about two years. His presence there has been a mystery. He seems to have none of the problems that ordinarily result in homelessness. Gradually, we discovered that he is an ordained minister and is quietly assisting certain invidividuals who need help, often the most vulnerable and confused. I started to ask him to help out, here and there. Sometimes he said yes and sometimes no, once explaining that Spirit was not telling him to take on that particular task. Finally I said to him, "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" He said he didn't so I asked him - did you leave your home and move on to the streets in order to follow the bidding of the Spirit moment-to-moment? He said, "Yes, I received this calling 22 months ago."
This is a centuries-old tradition, spoken of in the literature of, I believe, all the major religious traditions in the world: the wandering monk or sannyasin who walks out the front door and lives unemcumbered, under the stars, following the will of the Creator in the moment, dependent solely on the Creator for sustenance. In recent times, an old woman named Peace Pilgrim chose this path, walking the streets and highways of this country for more than 20 years, preaching peace. She never carried money or anything that didn't fit into her small backpack.
I am shaken with wonder when I meet someone like Simon in the homeless community - as I have before a time or two. He is part of the hidden universe of the poor and the faithful that coexists within our world almost like another dimension. We can have hope because it's still there - you won't find it on Face Book or anywhere else but in the universe of Now, where the homeless people live.
"Miss May, Bill and Mr. Leon"
Miss May worked all her life as a waitress. She has lived in the St. Francis House neighborhood for decades. All those years she helped out the homeless people, with food, friendship, and even shelter on stormy nights. Now she's 77, in poor health, and struggling along along on Social Security. She became ill this year and her weight dropped to 57 pounds. The homeless people, led by Bill and Mr. Leon, have made a project of helping her out. They go to food pantries and outdoor meals all over the dowtown area, gathering food for her and cooking it. Her weight is now up to 81 pounds, a fact they are celebrating. Last week they told me that her oven isn't working and her frig no longer keeps food cold. We have asked Christians Concerned for the Community to find a stove and frig for her. The waiting list at CCFC is long, but we're hoping for an intervention of Grace. It happens.