Monday, June 9, 2008
Day Three: Being Hosted By the Homeless
Today was great. We spent 2 hours in silence and solitude in Golden Gate State Park. There we learned prayer and practiced the way of Jesus as mystic. Following this, we walked (oh the walking) down to the lower Haight neighborhood and volunteered at the Page St. Center.
The Page St. Center is a food distribution hub for San Francisco's food bank. However, what makes the center unique is that it is run by the homeless for the homeless. To received groceries and/or a meal at Page St. you have to chip in. So, we sorted food, swept floors, moved furniture and took out the trash all under the direction of the city's homeless. This dynamic subverts the notion that Page St. Center is a place for "hand outs". Here there are no hand outs and as a result those living on the streets are given something much more, their dignity.
Because of all this, we were called guests at meal time and even went first in line to get our food. Now I don't know about you, but being the guest of the homeless is really something else. Talk about the great reversals of the kingdom of God!
Our time at Page St. taught us two other things as well: Several of the folks there were transgendered (and homeless because they were exiled from family because of it) and it was beautiful to see our group take a posture of learning and friendship with these folks- even though many had never met a transgendered individual before. Instead of fear we learned about offering friendship. Secondly, the complications of homeless challenged us as we saw the many distinctions within the neighborhoods homeless population (working poor, homeless by choice, homeless by exile from family, etc.) I can say I learned a lot as my categories were stretched today and my boxes shattered.
Ok, that's all.
I'll add in some pictures tomorrow.