Two weeks ago, one of the other volunteers wondered aloud how the pantry's upcoming relocation to another part of town would impact those who live in the tent city.
Excuse me? There's a tent city in my town?
When I asked where it was, she casually mentioned that a group of people live in the woods behind the Walmart on Marketplace Blvd, just a mile from the pantry.
My town does not have a homeless shelter. From what I can gather from some online research, efforts to bring one to the city have been the work of a coalition of churches, not the county.
They have not, as yet, been successful.
Now that I know about these people, I can't pretend I don't know they're there. When it rained buckets in the wee hours of the morning earlier this week, I thought about them. As night fell yesterday and I knew the temperature would drop to 25 degrees for the first time since January, I thought of them.
My problem? I don't know how to engage them or help them. I don't want to throw money or a meal or a blanket at them in order to ease my discomfort.
As I wrestle with this, it is Lent. I didn't grow up giving up something or having ashes placed on my head to remind me of my humanity. I decided that I would participate this year. Today, part of The Lent Project experience involved reading Scripture and listening to a song.
From Romans 12:16:
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Not too proud to dwell with us, to live in us, to die for us
God didn't pretend not to know about the situation humanity was in. He began making a plan--as soon as our circumstances separated us from Him--to come for us, to dwell with us, to associate with us. To die for us.
God's inviting me to follow His example. Can I set aside my discomfort, my desire to have all the details worked out ahead of time, and just seek a way to enter into their world?