Today has been one of those days- one of the ones where the weight of the world feels heavy…like, so incredibly heavy. It started this morning as I was walking to a meeting on the earlier side of the AM and found myself feeling physically impacted by how many people I saw still sound asleep on the pavement. My chest felt heavy, my shoulders weak and each step felt like wading through swampy waters. As I neared closer to my destination I heard someone call my name- not “baby” or “white girl,” as are often the monikers hollered at me on this particular street, but my actual name. I looked down to find Mr. Harvey, a man who I’d spent my first 4 years with here on Skid Row. This man holds a special place in my heart as our first meeting was while I was doing outreach, looking for specifically for him at 4:30 in the morning on his birthday…which happens to be mine too. This commonality bonded us instantly.
At first glance Mr. Harvey and I have absolutely nothing in common- he is an older black man with a severe mental illness and a catalog of memories that I can’t even begin to imagine. But as he stated this morning, the uniqueness of the day we met, “our day” remains imprinted on us both.
It’s been a couple of years since working with the program that Mr. Harvey was in and I’d since heard that he’d left, but I never knew why- to be honest, I am not sure he does either. Seeing him this morning snapped something in me. As I sat down next to him, noticing his missing shoe I couldn’t stop the flood that felt like one thousand pounds of grief- grief for Mr. Harvey, grief for multitude of other men and women on the street, grief for the broken systems and hearts that got them there.
I’m supposed to be stronger than this, I thought.
I walked away feeling very, very human; limited, defeated, overwhelmed and as I often find myself doing, began to calculate what it would look like to get every single person off the streets into a home. Mid-calculation however, my thoughts were interrupted with another, In this world you will have trouble, but TAKE HEART, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
That’s all of it.
It has to be it.
I have mentioned before my struggles with doubt and continuous questioning of just about anything I can get my hands on, but I believe these words. I have to believe these words. Because if I don’t, nothing else makes sense to me. Love, justice, peace- none of these add up without these words. I have to believe that when God says that he is bigger than all of this mess, that He means it. I have to believe that there is something more going on than what my brain and my eyes can see.
I have to.
And so I will. I will grit my teeth and dig in my heels- I will keep fighting. It may be through tears, it may come with screams and there’s a good chance there’ll be a few of swear words, but today I will cling to this truth like a life raft in a storm; take heart.