The truth of who you are

Suburban Station on a Sunday morning: Empty of the usual weekday rush, still home to the homeless who are even more visible now. Two women chat over their sacks of belongings as if over a backyard fence. Near the elevator to the street a man orates to an audience of no one in particular as if he were the preacher in a church with no pews. “You will tell the truth of who you are,” he proclaims, and I wonder if he is speaking to me, because I worry that I show the truth of who am every time I pass one of the many street people I see every day in the city, hands outstretched, and keep my own hands in my pockets. The suburbs do not prepare you for these. Safe from the sight of the poor and homeless, you could convince yourself that they don’t really exist, at least not here in the first world we so comfortably occupy. How do you decide whose request for “spare change” you’ll honor? All of them? None of them? But there after so many, and some do seem more deserving than others.

In my own preaching I tell people that we are all God’s children, all equally deserving of love, of grace–which is to say that we’re all both undeserving and yet deserving by virtue of having been created in the image of the divine. Why should it be different here on the streets?

I’m sickened when I hear someone say there are too many poor brown people in our great white country already, too many to let any more in. They’ll just have to fend for themselves. Even those who are already here don’t really deserve what we have. There are too many already. I’m sickened, and yet I sense that I am doing the same kind of sorting myself every time I go walking in the city.