Do We Truly “See” The Homeless?


It is my honor and priveledtge to guest post today for Alene Snodgrass over at

I hope you’ll check out my view of poverty and homelessness . Check out her whole story while you are there, she inspires me. She did a wonderful job editing my photo of a local man to give it a powerful impact.

it was his knees caught my attention.

It was his knees that caught my attention. His pants had ripped dramatically since I last saw him. This cold night in the library, while I picked up a book to read before bed, he sat staring vacantly. No movement. No home. Certainly no bed.

I struggle with poverty, with homelessness. There has always been shame, a wondering why I should be comfortable when so many have nothing. We don’t take vacations or buy fancy clothes, but our needs have always been met.  We have never known a roofless night or a belly distended with malnutrition.

Yet even with that internal struggle, my efforts are scattered. Too far between.

A friend’s brother was homeless, and first brought focus to them as individuals. People with stories. They are siblings, fathers, aunts, and even grandmothers. Sometimes making inconceivable choices to survive another day.

The daunting lack of societal compassion is searing.

Cynicism blinds us to true humanity.

I want to shake my fists with grief with the echoed sentiment of society, “How do know they aren’t pulling scams?” “Why don’t they just do something about it instead of sitting around begging?”

Do we mistakenly think it is that easy?   Where is our compassion, our ability to give the benefit of the doubt to the least of these?

I have served homeless under a bridge, breakfasted with a man who gave me no words, been rejected as I offered lunch. Some people surely do work the system. Most, I believe, do not.  I have experienced the joy of men and women seeing my children serve under that bridge. Speaking softly to them and happy to be able to interact, even briefly, with children.

They had a code of decency; the disrespectful ones were quickly reprimanded by the general population. The man I shared a meal with was roaming the glitzy downtown Vegas strip, unseen by the crowd, while even in their midst. He chose the most centrally located table and we ate in silence. I accepted what he had to offer, and he did the same for me.  I have also been embarrassingly rejected in public as my offers of lunch were scorned by the hungry.  I do not pretend to understand all situations, but I went out of my comfort zone, and will again. I went with hands outstretched to give, and came away with something greater than I offered. Blessings.

Me, blessed and humbled.

What I have done is not enough.

My compassion stops short of action frequently. I will continue my quest to see the suffering more deeply. To reach out and stop judging. I don’t know what someone will do with my meager cash offering. It is not my business. I will reach out ; gaining a thousand fold back as my actions grow to match my heart. To see humanity and let the scales of indifference fly into the wind behind me.


About christasterken

Committed to a life of purpose. Learning to live abundantly. Embracing creativity. Questioning. Delighting in the comforts of home and family. Determining not to settle only for how things are, but how they could be. Writing is part of who I am, so I trust In God who gave the gift to show me how I can serve Him through it. That is my life…one word at a time. Psalm 89:11a“Teach me your way , O Lord, and I will walk in your truth”

One response »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s