a knock on the window

February 13, 2009

looks like hope

I work with homeless people every day. Since my job involves admitting people into a respite care program, I’ve learned how to read the life stories contained within psych evaluations and medical records like they’re novels. They contain some quite poetic phrases and life descriptions which I can’t help but scribble down at times.

Fortunately, because of the nature of the program I work with, I get to know the faces, voices, and personalities of the people who give breath to the bodies that exist more real than those official printed pages.

Today I sat down to listen to the full-length story of a man I’ve been working with because his life recently booted him from the role of successful businessman to become homelessly suicidal.

As he described both the path that led him to the side of a highway with a suicide plan and the path that allowed him to walk away from that place, he told me something beautiful about the hope that exists for the homeless, the depressed, the addicted, those who give up on caring.

He said something like this (completely paraphrased):

At first I was really bitter and could only think about how everything revolves around money. About the way that I had lost all of mine and so was excommunicated from the world of those with homes and normal lives. What saved me from this perspective that was slowly drifting me toward death wasn’t money but people. I realized that there are people in the world who care…even about poor strangers who live on the street… When people who had no obligation to me showed that they cared about what happened to me, I started to care too. And now what I care about is helping anyone I can.

It might sound hokey or oversimplified, but when we are reduced to our most basic forms, we still have the ability to care. about others and about ourselves.

but sometimes we need someone to show us how.

i think that today this lovely wise man who is now gratefully attempting to get his life back together showed me.

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