Getting Through the Slough of Despond

Life is a journey. So is homelessness.

Before I started hanging out with the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA two years ago, I had no idea there was homelessness in Bucks County. I also had no idea of what homelessness was like.

The image I had of homelessness was of people lying on storm grates in Philadelphia. One day, as my daughter and I walked to a school in the city where she was in a play, we had to navigate around people sleeping on storm grates. Even though we were in Philadelphia, I was still was somewhat taken aback by seeing homeless people out in the open like that.

In Bucks County I witnessed judgmentalism against the homeless. There is a group of area residents and some nearby public office employees who just don’t like homeless people in the library or at the nearby Veteran’s memorial. People scheme to constructively shoo them away. On one occasion, one cold winter morning, a woman with COPD, after coming from Code Blue, wanted to keep warm in the WIC building before the library opened. She couldn’t walk far and just needed to stay warm. She entered the public building, which was open.

She was run out for no other reason (after you cut through the BS they gave her) than that she was homeless.

Local establishments push the homeless away, such as McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King, especially Burger King. The exceptions in the Levittown vicinity are Wendy’s and Denny’s, who judge people by the content of their character and treat people based on their behavior when they visit.

Being homeless is tough. I lived in my car for a few months. I ended up getting cramps and my feet and legs swelled up. Some people live in tents. Things are tough during inclement weather. The worst time is just above freezing rainy, windy weather. Tents leak, the ground gets flooded. The woman at the WIC ended up lying in standing water and had to be taken to the hospital.

Some homeless people live on walkways, using pads and blankets, and have to pick up every morning.

Some homeless people have addictions and other mental issues.

Whether they brought it on themselves or, as Curly from The Three Stooges would say, are “a victim of circumstances”, the homeless are hurting.

Like all of us, the homeless need God. He never promised us a rose garden, but he guides the Christian’s path, and for those who walk in his ways, he brings good. There is no quick fix, but God has our backs and in the long run comforts us.

Life is a journey, and although there are rough times, challenges along the way, for the Christian, life has meaning and is good. God will get you through the rough times, which, by the way, he allows to happen for our benefit.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  –Jeremiah 29:11

The journey to a bright future is dramatized in John Bunyan’s allegory of the soul, The Pilgrim’s Progress. The story takes you along Christian’s journey from Graceless to the Celestial City, a tale of hope.

I read Pilgrim’s Progress many years ago. I was despondent after a girl I had a romantic interest in blew me off. My mother noticed my state and had me read John Bunyan’s book. I highly recommend it. It can be found in the Levittown public library and maybe in other branches of the Bucks County Free Library System. It’s one way the homeless can spend their time productively and be comforted and inspired.

There is a way out of the Slough of Despond.