I rolled down to Portland (Oregon) saturday market today, took in the music, enjoyed the smells of the food, watched the many diverse people walking, running, skateboarding, bicycling etc. Most of those people were either on vacation, taking in a summer stroll on a weekend, locals walking their dogs, entertaining relatives, doing the average things people do at a circus like market.
But there was one woman (there are many) that was sitting on the sidewalk on a dirty old blanket away from the mainstream activity of the market that caught my eye and my heart. I decided to go a few blocks away from the market and realized I was very quickly in the homeless section of the city near the Salvation Army chapel and center. I have driven by there with friends many times, always have compassion for the homeless people lined up trying to get relief from hunger, the sun, the weariness that is their life but I have never rolled up that street in my scooter.
This was a close up and personal contact with those sitting, lying, leaning, walking there in the place they gather near the center waiting, waiting, for something to happen that will make their lives more wonderful, more livable---better. Dare they, these homeless, wish for this or hope for this? Dare they expect change?
I don't know what her name is. I didn't ask. I rolled by her slowly the lady sitting on the sidewalk up against the grey building with her head in her hands. I stopped there thinking if she wanted to talk to me she would. I had a candy bar in my bag I wanted to give her---but she just sat there, head down in her hands, dirty from life on the streets. I felt her despair up close and personal as I passed. She touched my heart in a way I have never been touched before because I smelled her odor, I saw her station, I heard her labored breathing, and I felt her depression and hopelessness. I became, for a brief time, part of her world.
The poverty this country produces by choosing to allow homelessness on our streets, to put resources into things and not people, to allow war to be a go to for prosperity, to put social services up against a wall so they become overwhelmed, to allow any of this to become the norm is evil. Social justice is needed.
I am going back to that spot, to that street, to see if she is still there, around, and this time I will stop and ask her---well---just talk to her---perhaps we can have a candy bar together---perhaps the change is coming soon---perhaps---