Chronic Homelessness

I saw a man on the side of the road close to death, and that wasn’t the worst part of the experience.

It’s easy to be consumed with yourself. We have so much going on. There are so many stimulants. A text message. Someone updated their Facebook status. You need to upload to Instagram. Then, there’s a million-and-one emails from work…not to mention those from friends, and the junk you ended up signing up for somehow.

So many things exist to keep us distracted. As technology advances, we think our Society is too. Yet, the more we advance the more we become less human. And that was the worst part of seeing a man close to death.

I could have been consumed with myself. Coming back from stealing a few minutes with my wife over lunch, I wanted to get back and be ready for my afternoon meetings. Yet, I can’t resist the urge to be somewhat of a menace to society, so I had Jay-Z blasting through the open windows (I love when the weather cools down).

As I exited the highway, there was a man dressed in the uniform of the streets. You know: dirty t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. He was going from car to car, motivating countless people to suddenly need their AC. No one wanted to hear him. No one wanted to see him.


But that Reasonable Doubt beckoned him, and he found my window. Through the boom-dap of the base and snare he asks me to call 911: someone had fell out on the road and was in need of an ambulance. “Yea, yea…I got you.” As I drove off with phone in hand, I wanted to see the truth of his request. Sure enough, a gentleman with an advanced degree from the School of Hard Knocks was on the side of the road…laboring greatly.

Suffice it to say, I took my jeep over the median and made a u-turn back to them – already on the phone with the authorities.

The man is 60 years old, has bad kidneys and one working lung. Apparently, the pain from whatever was ailing him dropped him as he was crossing a busy street. He is one of the many who suffer chronic homelessness.

And, here’s where the tragedy begins.

The gentleman who flagged me down had just been released from the jail down the street. He was heading home when he saw the other man fall out. He had to stop traffic because able-bodied people just continued to drive by him, laid out in the street.

To make matters worse, the brother who stopped me stated how he had been trying to flag someone down for quite some time and that no one would stop. In his words, “they act like I was gonna take their car.” “Can you believe this shit?…Sorry pastor. Excuse my language.”

“That’s okay brother. As you’ve just seen, there are far worse things in this world than cursing” (i.e. foul language).

Eventhough he didn’t know the man who was ill, he wouldn’t leave. And all these people with devices glued to their ears, had no compassion. Or at least they allowed fear to triumph over compassion.

Thankfully, the ambulance was swift to arrive and the first responders to excellent care of him. He was in quite a state, in need of a great deal of care. He was taken to the hospital. #ThanksBeToGod

The crazy thing about it is many of those who passed by, and many of us, will hear the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and will vow to be “good neighbors.” But on the real life Jericho road I traveled yesterday, those who had the means and were able lacked the will. Only the thief*…the ex-offender possessed the spirit the Lord requires.

And there’s the tragedy: that it is so easy to fool ourselves…to mislead ourselves. Be honest: most of us would have ignored this man. Most of us don’t want to hear people begging from us. So, we cross the street when we see them. We roll up our windows, turn up the music and keep our eyes fixed straight ahead. We pretend we’re doing something important on our phones. Most of us will find an excuse to ignore our neighbor, and still fool ourselves into thinking we will inherit eternal life.

How can we be found worthy of redemption? Look at yourself: do you need repentance? Do you struggle with this, and need to speak with someone to find the strength to overcome? That’s okay. We all struggle. Spiritual direction can help! To learn more about spiritual direction, visit me here and let’s journey to a better place, together.

*I don’t know if the gentleman who flagged me down was a thief or not. I didn’t ask him what his offense was, because the greater offense was that no one helped a brother in need – besides this man. His offense didn’t matter. Yet, for the sake of story I use the term thief – since even he noted that the people who ignored him acted like he wanted to rob them.


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