The following post is by my good friend Lynn Heuss.
Going for a bike ride often presents me with an opportunity to think. Last Saturday was a beautiful day, and I went for a ride from downtown Des Moines to Cumming. As I was riding, I remembered a time I had been with a friend and we had stopped to pick (and eat) wild berries along the same trail. The reason we were able to do so was because my friend knew where and what to look for. Had I been by myself, I would have missed the opportunity. Sometimes this same friend has grabbed other kinds of plants (that look like weeds to me) and eaten them. I’m pretty sure they were a legitimate source of food, but I have to admit I’ve had my doubts. If nothing else, I look back on some of those experiences and it makes me smile to remember. Humor is a gift between friends too.
Part of the reason I told this story was because it shows (in a small way in this case) the value and importance of friendship and connection to a community made up of family, co-workers and friends.
That is not the case with so many in the homeless community. Many end up homeless because they have lost all connection to whatever community, or support network they had. While no one can make those kinds of connections for another person, we can work to provide other resources – at least the basics needed to survive.
The proposed location for the Shelter has created an outcry against it by some of the local neighborhood associations. And I don’t get it -- especially when the arguments follow this pattern. A woman at the City Council meeting said, “I am a good Christian woman and I want those people to be taken care of, but…..” I can guarantee you that nearly every time someone begins a statement with “I am a Christian, but,” the “but” is going to be nothing about the kind of Christianity that Jesus actually called people to live into. It will be some kind of bullshit statement that is based on unfounded fears. (I have a bachelor’s degree in Religion and a nearly completed Masters in Theology, so I can say “Jesus” and “bullshit” in the same sentence. Especially when I’m pretty sure he might have wanted to say the same thing about some of the reasons that were given.)
Bad things happen all over our city, in all of our neighborhoods. The homeless population doesn’t have the corner on the market. Maybe if we spent more time being actual neighbors rather than just a member of a neighborhood association, we’d dispel some of the fear that can be created when faced with a population we don’t understand. The Register had a good editorial about the Shelter yesterday. I hope you’ll read it and consider what you might do to help make it a reality.