Two years ago:
"Today, I saw invisible people.
Today, I was blessed to accompany my sister on her rounds at Austin's ARCH, one of several hubs where the homeless can gather in the hopes of winning a lottery to get a meal, a shower, or a bed for the evening. We walked around the block, curious eyes following us, searching out one of her unofficial bodyguards, one of the denizens who regularly accompanies her when she comes to bring cast-offs from her home organization clients. He was nowhere to be found, so we walked alone. She walked purposefully. I walked like an amateur, making eye contact with everyone and smiling. My eyes were drawn to one of the few white women there, wearing a blue striped shirt and hot pink pants, sitting with a black man that appeared to be her husband. She looked so broken, more broken and afraid than the rest. I whispered to Courtney, "Can we stop and meet her? She's breaking my heart." We walked once around in our fruitless search, then at the dead-end fencing, we turned and walked almost 360degrees back to the van, grabbed a crate of pillows and blankets, and made the trek again. latest fashionable evening party wears
As soon as Pink Pants saw Courtney handing out blankets, she called to me, "Hey! Hey! I want one! Can I have one?" We carried our crate to her. "What kind of blankets?" She picked one out, inspected it, smelled it, "This will work." That was good-- it's good that she hasn't let all of her dignity slip away, that she holds some memory of who she is, how life once was. God has taught me that there's a difference between ungratefulness and the faint memory of human dignity. I introduced myself. Her name was Raylee, and her husband was John. I asked how I could pray for them. John answered, "Pray for us to get a home. We really need a home." So I did.
I turned around and Courtney introduced me to Joel. He looked like mid-level IT management, only unshowered and carrying everything he owned in a backpack. He wanted us to pray for his son, Alex. "What does Alex need us to pray for?" "He's not saved. And he's homeless." So we prayed. We prayed that the Holy Spirit would drown out the voice of the enemy, that the Holy Spirit poured out into Alex's life would completely render void anything the enemy attempted to pour into him.
The blankets and pillows we brought were claimed early in our journey, and so we walked the rest of the block with only prayers to give. We stopped and prayed with a man who said, "I love Jesus! He's all I have, and He's good! I still do drugs, but I need Jesus!" While we talked, another man a few spots down muttered something I didn't understand, evidently a slanderous word against God, and my new friend lit up--"Don't you talk like that!"
We saw Danielle, broken, lost Danielle, who looks like she could be so pretty beneath the devastation that crack has wrought on her face. Danielle that sometimes sleeps so close to the street that her head hangs off the curb. Danielle who keeps going back to him, even though he beats her. She tried to walk past Courtney, tried not to see her, but Courtney grabbed her, said, "Hey, I want to introduce you to my sister," hugged her.
We walked on. Albert wanted prayer. Rolando. Gina-- who loves God and never forgets to pray to her Father, even though she's not a 'Jesus Freak'. Courtney answered, "There's nothing freaky about loving Jesus!" Gina, beautiful, blonde, well-made-up-self-coiffed Gina in her skinny Jeans and wrinkles winked and smiled with her last tooth.
All along the way, we smiled, we introduced ourselves, we prayed and hugged. We stepped over rotting bananas and trash, past a woman in a too-tight black knit dress falling off one shoulder who dutifully swept the street in front of her spot. Past a young woman who showed us her engagement ring. walked by people who looked like they could live next door, and people who looked like they'd never lived indoors. People who still had their spark, and people whose eyes were dark with despair and hopelessness. People who were taking God at His word that He meets us where we are. People who have nothing but their faith to hold onto, nothing but grace to cash in on. And we prayed. Our blankets claimed, we gave all we had: prayer, and hope, and the gift of being seen.
Sometimes, that last, frail shred of hope hangs on being seen.
Today, I saw invisible people, everywhere I looked. And I am all the better for it...."