Homeless in Berkeley

Today, when I left the house to go for my morning walk, there was a man sitting on our steps. This happens from time to time, since we live in a highly walkable neighborhood. I assured him that he didn’t have to move, that he could sit there if he wanted to.

Somehow, he engaged me in conversation. I don’t remember how it started, but he told me that he might have just experienced his first night as a homeless person. Something very traumatic happened yesterday, and he felt like he couldn’t return to his old life. I did a lot of listening.

He seemed to need to have someone to tell his story to. Over and over, I was struck by his intelligence, the metaphors he was using, and the incongruence of his nice clothes, his polite manner, and the distressful circumstances of his current situation. Really, all I did was listen for a while.

Yesterday I had put a lot of old linens and blankets on the curb (Berkeley-style free bin), and he asked me if he could take several blankets and the pillow, and hide them in the bushes to use tonight if he needed to sleep outside again. Again, I said yes because it seemed like such a small request.

As the day went on, I ran into him 2 more times as I was out and about in the neighborhood, and the last time he told me that today I was his best friend on earth. Why? Because I didn’t pretend he didn’t exist? Because I listened to him?

Tonight, as I was closing up the house, and locking the front door, I peeked out to where he had stashed the blankets. They are still there. I wonder if he’s found a place to land. Sending prayers for his well-being.

I decided to post this story of my day after my friend, Patricia Klingler, in Seattle, posted a similar story of her day. It seems like such a small thing, from all the abundance in my life, to reach out a hand to a person in crisis. But so worth it. Maybe the best thing in my day, come to think of it…

Rev Linda Reppond is the Spiritual leader and housemother of The Launching Pad, a Centers for Spiritual Living focus ministry in Berkeley, California. Their focus statement is; “We are a spiritual community of young adults living the highest vision of who we are.”

Find out more about The Launching Pad at http://launchingpadberkeley.com/

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