I Walked

February 4, 2008
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Psalm 56:8 – Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? (KJV)

Not being a television person, radio and newspapers are my preferred choice of media for news, weather, sports, and music. Talk shows, though informative, often become repetitive from one host to another, so I turn to music. However, every once in a while, especially if visiting others who choose television, I catch a newscast or part thereof.

And so it was, a couple of weeks before Christmas that I happened to catch part of a newscast dealing with homelessness on the mainland, in Vancouver's downtown east side. The week was a particularly cold one, and shelters were bracing for the onslaught of people seeking warmth and shelter each night. The news report stressed the inequality of there being more spaces available for men than women.

In one short, poignant moment, that fact was given a face. The interviewer stopped a woman dressed in what looked to be a dark pea jacket and black toque. She said all the shelters for women had been full the night before. To the interviewer's question of what she had done the previous night, with a look of defensive resignation, the woman replied, "I walked."

Her story is but one being played out throughout the world. People are homeless for a plethora of reasons. It is overwhelming. We're told not to give them money, but instead, to donate to the shelters with money, food, clothing, or bedding. However, there are still times when one feels the need to drop a coin in an outstretched hand.

On the streets, I often find it hard to ignore their pleas, and so I try to determine their sincerity of need, because there are those who are professionals at looking needy and asking for money. Yet in so doing, I've still likely been taken now and then.

However, there's a little saying that I learned long ago: "Would I regret having done it, or having not done it?" As well, there are Jesus' words:

Matthew 25:45 – Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (KJV)

Prayer: We give thanks to You, O Lord, for the gift of choice. Help each of us to use our God-given choices wisely, careful not to judge or admonish others for how we think or perceive them to be dealing with the horrors of homelessness. May we, in our daily lives, see You in others. May we at the very least, offer a smile and a kind word. In Your name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Mary Daniel <marydee@shaw.ca>
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

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