I left home when I was young to flee from the life I experienced behind closed doors. I’ve temporarily called “home” other people’s places, done some couch surfing and attic apartment living… you know, the kind where you have to walk with your neck bent to one side. I’ve called “home” staying near biker gangs and ate raw dollar store noodles and opened “mystery cans” that didn’t have labels on them to call it dinner on the inside; I’ve referred to myself as blessed when gifted a box of cereal.
The friends we meet on the streets call the doorways of businesses, behind dumpsters, and indoor parking garages HOME. Youth call park benches, nooks under bridges and bushes safe and cozy places to sleep.
We call walking the streets with a wagon filled with sandwiches, socks, granola bars, juice or water and a gentle smile Outreach. Going out in teams of two or more on a path to find friends; some we know intimately and few we hadn’t had the privilege of meeting until then, with a wagon filled full of hope and temporary comfort.
When we as a society go visiting friends and loved ones, we approach their front doors with excitement, anticipation and a jolly knock at the door, eager to see the faces on the other side.
Approaching our street friends’ homes is done with permission to enter, giving them the same respect that we want to be shown in our homes. We enter with a smile and a wagon filled with hostess gifts.
Ever seen someone that doesn’t necessarily look or smell like us walk around with tattered shoes, dirty hands and a less than new bag?
Ever wonder what’s inside them?
Every prized possession lays just beneath the zippers of their backpack. For some it might be a hotel sized bar of soap, a pair of socks, a water bottle…perhaps even a coveted picture of a loved one, longing to be seen. The very basics…not enough to get through the day, but valued nonetheless.
Our sandwiches, given from a gentle hand to a weathered outstretched arm goes directly into a worn backpack to be saved for later; received with a soft “thank you” and a grateful heart.
I’m overly blessed that my over-sized bag is now filled with more than a box of cereal. I now have the ability with a giving heart to pay it forward to those I’m overjoyed to call my friends. The absolute pleasure and blessing is mine to visit them in the doorways with their bags…because home is where your backpack is.