Do your circumstances control you and do you act like Lewis Carroll’s Aged Aged Man?
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo –
That summer evening long ago
A-sitting on a gate.
If, like Lewis Carroll’s character, you are distracted by your woe because of your immediate circumstances, just realize this is only a season. In the midst of trouble, you should know there is a way out. There is more to life than just carpe diem, seizing only the moment in life, but something deep inside that satisfies your soul and lifts your spirits.
Like Job in the Bible, the homeless have suffered a loss, living like Gypsies. Now stripped of worldly goods, they have to find what’s really important in life, without all the bells and whistles. If you look around you may see, as Frankie Valli’s Let’s Hang On lyrics go, what you have is really a lot.
There are things out there that you can do to improve and enjoy your life. The public library in Levittown, PA offers chair yoga classes. Sleeping and living in a car tends to cramp me up. After taking a few yoga classes, I’ve felt noticeably looser. I’ve also been able to breathe better and tend to be generally healthier.
A lung cancer patient I’ve been looking after has taken physical therapy. I noticed that some of the exercises are like what we do in the chair yoga class. I mentioned this to the yoga instructor, who said that when you find something good, others do it.
And physical therapy, yoga, helps people, if they continue to do it.
I’ve also found that Kava Tea helps relax my mind and muscles, much like Yoga.
So does acupuncture. In a similar but different way.
One of the things homelessness does is helps you think outside of the box and improvise. Although one of the things people in transition yearn for is a routine, without it one tends to turn this loss into a search for innovative ways, new skills to deal with situations. The need to solve a problem is why we think and develop a plan, according to C.S. Pierce, the founder of American pragmatism. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce/
Another thing homelessness does is, like Job, help you find who your true friends are. Those who accept you for you are and who help you not just for what they can get from you are genuine friends.
It also tests your faith. Things you took for granted are not there, and when you are needy and on the road to becoming homeless, you really have to trust in God. After I lost my job, I was almost penniless. I didn’t know where my next meal would come from.
I found a food pantry, but that wasn’t enough to sustain me. I could no longer afford Internet at the house. After I started using the Wi-Fi at the public library, I befriended homeless people at the local library I knew from the community meals where I worked as a volunteer who told me about free community meals and a bus that would take me there.
After a season, I came into a little money and was able to get my car back. I sold my house and got more money but it’s been a struggle to find housing and I stayed in my car for a time. Although I’m off the street, I still seek regular housing.
In my Odyssey, I’ve come across people who have taught me what’s important and that the Lord loves me and has my back. I had turned away from my faith, but now through hardship, I’m learning what’s really important in life, and, although I tend to try to figure out and anticipate the outcome, I’ve have gone outside myself to a higher power.
Hope comes from faith in Christ. It is something outside myself.
As Emily Dickinson wrote:
Hope is the Thing with Feathers
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”
Another resource people with trouble have is the Bible based 12 Step Program, which meets at the Restoration Church in Levittown on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and at Crossings Community Church in Newtown at 6:30 p.m..
So just hang on to what you’ve got…