You've become suddenly curious about those people I have said are all around you; perhaps even more curious about why it is that you can't see them. The people I live among are a diverse lot, and every day, as more people join with us in living our lives in a way that reflects certain aspects of the way you(and your people) live theirs, there is more experience from having lived among your people to add to the complexity that we syncretize into this wider experience of life in a living world. We don't look like much, but may harbor, among our ranks, those individuals who will survive what is coming, thereby becoming the sole hope of all humanity.
We are the homeless among you. We have become the 'right-brain' for a cerebral society that can no longer feel its own pain. Perhaps you have seen signs of our existence at your local library. Society, through this nether hemisphere, percieves the 'shelterness' of the under-utilized facility in a very natural way; a way lost and forgotten to those who go back to their own shelters each evening to begin worrying about dimly percieved forces that threaten the value of this primary asset; forces that are encroaching on their ability to posess it; unaware of the warm and pleasant 'shelterness' they should be feeling. These automatons, that the cadre of obscenely wealthy oligarchs they serve have raised up to take care of all the laborious details of running a world that converts the energy of so many into the rewards that manifest to so few, feel just as exposed and powerless, when they should be feeling snug and secure, as my people felt while they waited outside the library before it was time for them to open their doors to the public.
For six long years I have been living on charity. This C-word is the English word that a commitee of scholars chose as the best one to convey the meaning of agape, from the Koine Greek of the original New Testament Gospels. These books outline an active course(pathway) which functions to weaken the masque responsible for the bonds that hold you frozen in your development(why you were incarnated here). Every coin(Koine) has two sides. On one side of this developmental coin, we see the 'work' that acts of charity are. What do you suppose is the obverse image hidden when you look at the charitable giver on the opposite side?
During those six years of dwelling in a 'shelter' with my people, just after having been served a nutritious suppertime meal, we proceed to a chapel service(mandatory attendance 7 nights a week), where we will be given an opportunity to listen to, well... a variety of interpretive versions of a Gospel message. Will we hear that message? Some do; some are encouraged to do a 'work' of their own. What 'work?' What is the image they will see on the obverse side of the charity 'coin?'
The first reaction people have, upon arriving at the Rescue Mission(dot net) for the first time, is to begin immediately to worry about what they need to be doing to get out of there. That was indeed my preoccupation there at first. The staff that work there are striving to create an environment where it is next to impossible to sustain that high level of anxiety. My ideas about getting out slowly morphed into an image I tried hard to sustain; an image of all the men there, with their (many-colored)hands joined so as to complete a great circle; a circle like you've seen when sky-divers join up into a free-falling formation; except my formation is floating/being lifted up out of that facility while looking down through the roof at what they are leaving behind.
That cooperative effort has to begin somewhere. It began with forging the relationships with those other faceless(at first) men who no longer have a home. Some are only willing to give you their street name; some may be so intoxicated that they are incoherent; some cannot be approached at all. Patience and time are the main requirements for getting circled-up; but you need to be circled-up with the others who know where to look for the lift that will raise them out of this sometimes volatile environment.
One year I participated in a Memorial Service for all those homeless persons who had died in the previous year; it was my job to read out the names on a list(there were 34 of them) as a bell tolled after each somber reading. This brought home to me what the 'at risk' categorization of this homeless population really meant. My ideas and attitudes continued to morph into more inclusive concepts; my visual accuity improving; my listening becoming a kind of hearing. The image of a two-sided coin appearing; but dimly.
My pastor's sermon struck a clear note with me; how a savior who came to comfort the afflicted had to be willing as well to afflict the comforted. That coin was being turned around; and there was a work depicted on the obverse as well. A work that the beggar seen outside Lazarus' gate had accomplished before he was borne off to the bosom of Abraham. Creating an opportunity for Lazarus to extend to the world, that had blessed him mightily, that agape that could have prevented his being cut off; an opportunity that alas, he scorned.
On the other side of the coin, arms outstretched to recieve all that was being offered by a world full of an abundance of all the things a man needs to continue his work, I was beginning to see myself. Enabled to keep working on joining up a great circle of fliers who could soar high above all the squalor that is the product of missed(or ignored) opportunities. Able to make the attempt to re-establish the lost connection, that will allow a deluded world to begin again to feel the self-inflicted pain that is the root-cause of the degenerative machine-like succubus that is devouring so much of a fragile planet's resources, because this work, the same work that was finished at Lazarus' gate, has been undertaken and now nears its completion.
Which side of this mysterious coin do you see yourself depicted on? Or have you been keeping them all inside deep pockets, while hurrying after more of them. You have to work hard to have your own likeness to appear there, but you do have a choice as to which side you prefer to work on. This may come as a great shock to you, but in the shelter, where I now live, there are many(and more of them every day) who have chosen for themselves a homeless lifestyle. Choosing this 'new' way of relating to their environment relieves them of responsibilities to so many entities that have no desire for the betterment of anything, that there is now time to work on something that respects a value that is not abstract; an occupation that provides for them, through their efforts, deeply positive incentives, and greatly enhanced rewards; an irresistable validation that can endure the scornful epithets and the faceless invisibility that go with the thrift store clothing and those ubiquitous backpacks. We're on our way to heaven; you'd better take heed!