If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
~ Emily Dickinson
I look at this proud and dapper robin in combination with this poem and, for some reason this morning, homeless people come to mind. I attended a gallery opening a couple weeks ago. A friend of mine's creative writing was included as part of an exhibit on homelessness in DC. All of the work was created by kids age 8-25, and included writing, poetry, painting, sculpture and new media. What made this project so interesting, though, is about HALF of the pieces were created by homeless children living in our nation's capitol.
In a word, it was sobering.
One of the girls was awarded posthumously. She had suffered from bi-polar disease and committed suicide one month after submitting her paintings, which were both haunting and wonderfully executed at the same time. I stood in front of her work as tears ran down my soul and pooled in the wells of my feet from the inside. What a terrible waste. What the hell are we doing in this country? We spend billions of dollars on a meaningless war, yet cannot figure out how to rid the streets of our nation's capitol... the supposed shining city on a hill Reagan spoke so eloquently about, while over 12,000 people have no place to call their own in the capitol of the richest city of the "free world".
I won't preach. The facts are enough to drive the thesis home to the heart, where it certainly belongs.
I know, I know... the world is overflowing with these problems, which are everywhere. How can we fix such a broken and weeping world?
I found an answer from the kindest and sweetest 14 year-old girl who presented a documentary slide show on cd in the basement of the gallery. She has fed homeless people in the district for 10 years through her church and decided to interview a handful of them, take their pictures, and share their stories with us.
When asked what we adults could do to help these people she said something along these lines, "I'm not asking for your money, what I am asking for is that when you see these people on the street, look them in the eye. Let them know you see them. Talk to them, show them dignity and respect."
Seems to me a bright, humble, intelligent and young version of Emily Dickinson was standing in front of me that day.
Show respect. Recognize and honor one another's humanity. Give the gift of truly seeing each other. Help these people, many of which are in dire straits because of unbelievable chaos and illnesses which, if we had to endure on our own, would render us homeless too. Giving dignity and vision to everyone is the first of many steps toward bringing our hearts back into their nests where they belong.
Do not live this life in vain. Bring peace into your world.
Samaritan Ministries organized the show, and you can visit their web site by clicking here.
Posted by susan at April 3, 2007 10:17 AM
Thank you for this most-needed reminder.
Posted by: Joan at April 3, 2007 11:18 AM
thank you for this. it strikes me where God continues to mess with my complacent, comfortable existence. you spoke for Him today, susan. thank you.
Posted by: beth at April 3, 2007 10:10 PM
I need the reminder just like everyone else. It's very easy to forget. In so many ways, this blog is one big reminder to myself to not think so much about myself. Peace.
Posted by: susan at April 3, 2007 10:54 PM
Powerful images I am sure. Indeed to see others through God's eyes... our eyes. We should all be more aware of the humanness of everyone.
Posted by: jayne at April 4, 2007 08:41 AM
I hold you in a heart of compassion and in the light of this day and blow on you with mitta that you may find your way. I cannot tell you what to do and I dare not assume that I have enough wisdom instruct you. I am just a man is all that I am. However, I a little awareness and sometimes I am awake. I can tell you what I will do, but to hold these in a heart of compassion when I sit on my pillow or even in Nabrahma meditations (see Osho). This is what I did for 2,973 families for 9/11. More will come later.
Posted by: Bourdillon at April 4, 2007 09:46 AM
very touching post...thank your for the reminder...humanity...dignity...YES!
Posted by: la vie en rose at April 4, 2007 02:43 PM
the enormity of the problems in our own country overwhelm me... the rest of the world boggles my mind. It makes you feel helpless and left wondering what can we do? But, I keep reminding myself that any little thing that each of us do has to add up to something - right?
Posted by: aola at April 7, 2007 11:08 PM