Archive for October, 2013

Sunday afternoon  – August 26, 2013

After Bible study and worship this morning, I scouted East Tower Grove for a place to eat Sunday dinner. Each place I checked out was either closed on Sunday, or it was not the atmosphere I was looking for. What I was looking for, I’m not sure, I just knew some of these places did not fit my mood. I wandered back to Lafayette Square and settled on Laredo, a small Mexican restaurant, which I thought was closed. It was not overly noisy and had pleasant Mexican music playing at about the right volume. The grilled salmon resting on a bed of grilled vegetables–spinach, broccoli, potatoes–and a few pieces of grilled pineapple was delicious

It’s fifty-eight degrees now where I am sitting on the sidewalk patio in front of the gelateria drinking a Pumpkin Latte. It may be even warmer with the radiant heat from the brightly shinning sun. Paco is certainly enjoying it, with hardly a shiver, he’s stretched out on the warm concrete. When he’s warm enough, he enjoys sidewalk cafes for people (and dog) watching. I say warm enough because he often shivers when the temperature is a pleasant seventy degrees.

Tonight is going to be another late night–fourth World Series game. We (Cardinals) won the game last night on a weird call. Allen Craig, recovering from a foot/ankle injury suffered on September 4, with a pinch-hit double in the ninth inning advanced Yadier Molina to third base. There was onlyone out, the score was tied. Then, one for the record-books.

Jon Jay batted next and grounded out to the Red Sox second baseman, who threw to home effectively eliminated Molina trying to score. The Red Sox catcher then threw to third trying to silence Craig who was attempting to gain a base. The catcher’s throw sailed past the third-baseman into left field. Craig, rightly so, attempted to score,but was tripped up by the third baseman who was lying on the ground after trying to catch the throw from the catcher.

Craig regained his footing and ran for home sliding into the plate, not knowing that obstruction was called on the third-baseman by the third base umpire. The call automatically gave him the next base, in this case, the winning run on the last out of the ninth inning.

The Cardinals are now ahead two games to one in the seven-game series. They need only win two of the last four games.

So, another late night tonight.

Society enters long discussions, some filled with a great deal of contention, others with unabated emotion, and still others with a cavalier nonchalance around homeless issues.

I am in the middle of these discussions. I don’t mean I am engaged in conversations about homelessness; I mean I live in the middle of homelessness. Homeless people live on my street. They walk around my neighborhood. They eat donated sandwiches while sitting on street curbs and sidewalks where my dog Paco and I walk every day. They sleep in doorways of Christ Church Cathedral. I pass homeless people on the sidewalks who are in wheelchairs, use canes or walkers, and whose chairs are motorized. They sit at sidewalk cafes until asked to move along. I live in the middle of discussions centering on homelessness.

I know or have observed homeless narratives and/or drama of people in my neighborhood. Take for instance the man who walks around the neighborhood pulling his twenty-two inch piece of luggage. He is always on the way to somewhere as though he is about to miss his connection in an airport concourse. The urgency of his walk belies his aimlessness. His smile is genuine, his life is good. Just ask him. “How are you,” I say. “By God’s grace I woke up this morning,” he says. “And he gave me these two good legs to walk on;” and he’s off on his urgent aimlessness.

Or there’s Stan, who has his regular “route.” Along about 8:30 he’ll walk up to the sidewalk chairs and tables in front of Nara Cafe Hookah Lounge and Mediterranean Cuisine. He pulls a chair out enough to sit down even though it is still cabled together with the other chairs and tables. He always has his eyes searching for his “friends.” Soon one comes by and hands him the morning’s Post-Dispatch with a cup of coffee. Approximately fifteen minutes later a couple comes out of a nearby condominium and hands him a plastic shopping bag. They speak briefly and then walk on. Stan opens the bag and takes out a lidded styrofoam take-home carton. Homeless Stan opens it and begins eating his breakfast while reading the morning paper. Breakfast at a sidewalk cafe. After a while, he walks with a sense of purpose toward his next “appointment.”

I speak to them every morning, a mother and her young son, as they wait for the school bus on the corner of Locust Street and Fourteenth. The boy, eight or nine years old, is always pleasant approaching the day with confidence as though life is good and he’s eager for what will unfold. His mother, usually pleasant and coaching the boy even though the boy seems to be calm and in better control of the situation. Neither of them have the appearance of homelessness and I wouldn’t have suspected they were except for the fact that on some mornings I see them exiting the homeless shelter, and, on a couple of late evenings, I’ve observed them entering for the night.

I watched a man dig into his twenty-two inch wheeled luggage and pull out a piece of change and hand it to another homeless man.

A homeless man, sitting on a curb with crossed arms resting on his knees and his forehead on his arms. I watched as a woman slid her hand gently onto the man’s arm while on the other side of him a man had an arm around his shoulders. All three were wearing dirty, ragged “homeless clothing.” An ambulance was just arriving.

How do you define “home.” One definition found at states, “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.” One definition often leads to another. Domestic: “of or pertaining to the home, the household, household affairs, or the family.” So Home: the place in which one’s familial affections are centered. It could be argued that among “homeless” people, “family” units co-exist within a shelterless existence.

Are these people homeless, or do they lack permanent shelter they could call their own space?