|Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmalz|
Image courtesy of St. Joseph's Soup Kitchen
AND YET, it wasn't until the weekend just past that I finally spent the better part of a day with nowhere to go, no place to hide from the wind's chill, or from the suspicious eyes of store employees and the waiting grip of police in a city that has outlawed homelessness. Just a few hours. I walked the streets, rode a bus simply because it was warm and in order to travel where I knew I'd find a friendly face and some kind conversation. I hid in a fast-food restaurant until they closed, partly because I'm one of the few fortunates who actually have a state-granted income--not enough to allow me to get a motel room, not if I want to survive until the end of the month, but enough to buy a cheeseburger and thereby avoid arrest for loitering a little while longer. Then I went to an all-night laundromat and tried to blend in for a little while; since I had no clothes running on which I could periodically check, the night watchman began to look askance at me pretty quickly, and I knew it was once again time to go back out into the cold.
There are primarily two subcultures in this country who are over 18, yet still carry backpacks--college students, and the homeless, and I've now been both. Students leave their dorm rooms or apartments for a long day of schlepping all over campus and the larger town, often don't intend to return to their tiny nests until sunset or after, and therefore make sure they're carrying everything required for the day on their bodies at all times. The homeless, however, carry everything they own, and it often isn't much, because they have no place to store so much as a paperclip. If it can't travel on their backs, they don't accept it. Always watchful of everyone, each sound and movement that reaches the senses, the homeless cannot relax for a second, waking or sleeping, because the threat of losing the few precious supplies in that bag is constantly, terrifyingly real. Never has my hypervigilance issue been as dramatic as it has become in the past few days; a car beeped near me when someone used their keyless remote to lock it, and I nearly bolted.
|The original image is one of the most|
famous Christian icons in the world,
known as "The Christ of Sinai."
The altered image is courtesy of
Romero Center Ministries.