Recently Jeanne and I decided to go shopping in Spokane at the River Park Square. We took her car.
Before heading out, there was a voice within that said, “take your car this time.” In the end, however, I didn’t listen to that voice.
It was in Spokane that we encountered many homeless folks. They seemed to be everywhere. One fellow was talking to himself and doing some strange things on the street. Was he hearing voices?
In Moses Lake, we have our share of the homeless. I got to know two of them in the past couple of months. One person now has a job, an apartment, and at last report was doing well. This individual was acting to do everything within their power to get off the streets and better themselves.
The other person? I ended up walking away. I spent about an hour with him. His paranoia was too much for me to deal with. I couldn’t “fix” that. He put up road blocks to every avenue that I offered to help. In the end, he wished to remain on the streets. I was at a complete loss.
But back to our shopping trip: when we left River Park Square, I was driving. We encountered road construction and unfamiliar territory. This was complicated by confusing and well-worn lane markers. In the midst of this mess, I was involved in an accident with a very large cement truck. Fortunately, everyone walked away fine.
I should have listened to that small voice that had warned me to take my own vehicle. It would have provided familiarity as well the comforting voice of my GPS. I would have likely avoided that accident.
Time and time again, that small voice within has proven to be both rational and correct, unlike that inside the head of a person with untreated schizophrenia.
In my experience, I have found that most folks on the streets have major issues – having experienced some form of abuse, battle mental illness, alcoholism, or drug addiction – but not all. In dealing with the homeless my constant companion, that small voice within, has urged me to remain open-minded.
I will most likely not be able to “fix” them. I direct most to Serve Moses Lake and other local organizations for help.
However, that small voice within urges me to remember to regard them as fellow human beings and always show some form of compassion.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.