by Perkins Edwards
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y granddaddy always said, “All human beings are family and friends we haven’t met yet.” And, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
I’m 67 years old. I’ve come to know that the way I approach life makes a difference. I see the crisis in our government, the reductions in subsidized housing, the dismantling of schools and homelessness.
I see a young man in a sleeping bag on the street, hiding his face. I know this person and his family. People are concerned about and care for him. Some people on the streets have mental health problems. I am concerned for the Human Family!
When I became homeless, I looked for a working example of a solution. I found St. Mary’s Center, a waystation for people who are homeless and in transition.
I came to St. Mary’s Center like the energizer bunny ready to be recharged. The staff has a mission and offers love, understanding, and loyalty. I was raised in a village as a child and I found village people and friendship at St. Mary’s. I needed to be with people who had experienced and understood homelessness.
On the street, I needed to be a macho man, a tough guy. At St. Mary’s I did not want to hide. I could show my personal feelings. I walked around with my eyes full of tears. When I wept, people understood.
When I struggle with a self-defeating habit, I resent people telling me what to do. At St. Mary’s we are in the same situation. When we sit around the tables for classes or dinners, we speak from the heart. The spirit connects us. When I hear and feel the truth and energy of our shared life, I know I have a chance to survive and overcome adversity.
When I see people who are homeless, I see a bit of myself. People need places to a take time out and remember one’s real self. They need places where everyone is equal and recognized for their creativity and ability.
At St. Mary’s, I went to the on-site inner courtyard for solitude, silence, and to heighten my awareness of God’s presence and guidance. I learned to love being myself and to stay in touch with my Heart and Spirit. Now when I meet adversity, I dig a little deeper.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero and role model for me. He told Black people to believe in equality for all people. I too am a troublemaker on a mission for equality. It ain’t over yet!