I never begged, held out a cup, or found myself hungry. A benevolent Orlando arched kindly over its homeless people. Come what may for food, it was soup, or potato pancakes, even meat loaf available in a blessed church hall or around the corner in the Salvation Army’s back room. Sure, I never saw T-bone steaks, or a splash of wine, but there was always something on the table that protected a homeless guy from hunger.
As for clothes, again the Salvation Army or Goodwill stored racks of used attire. Shirts, jeans, even underwear. Once, when rummaging through the racks, John, the old custodian who daily swept up the place, came close to my ear, “Isn’t it risky, Andrew, living out on the streets?”
I stood wondering how to share the truth I was living? Should I even try? How could John know that locked behind bars was the riskiest of all life. No, he couldn’t, for only someone stuffed in a 10’ x 10’ cage with blabbering idiots could fully appreciate what I’d now been given: nature’s spaciousness, its quiet, the simple pleasure of watching a Drake elm dance in the wind, the freedom to do nothing while sitting under that elm. How could the Salli’s old custodian understand the delight of finding an empty park bench, or how delicious sounding could be rain’s music splattering rhythmically on a sidewalk, or how I could smile watching an energized squirrel dashing downward on a tree truck to hide a discovered nut. Could John know that perhaps in the scheme of God’s design, we have to lose our life in order to deeply gain it?
“You know John, that’s a great question. Let me think about it.” I left the Sali, holding a rumpled sack of worn shirts.
Yes, I sleep under the stars and call it urban camping. I wait in bread lines, humbled by the constant generosity of volunteers. I walk in hidden pine woods, listen to the song of the red bird, watch a butterfly land on my outstretched hand, fluttering its wings, and feel my heart skip a beat from a rare glimpse of a kite sailing in the wind.
Yes, John, how could you know that I see the face of God in every small animal, in every moving cloud, and feel a freedom of soul as never before.
No risk John, I’m exactly in the place God wants me for now.