An Opportunity for Compassion


Sierra Roots has a weekly luncheon for the homeless. For many months I declined to participate, based on ideas I have had about not enabling or contributing to the homeless problem, wanting to focus more on solutions. How wrong my ideas have been!!! Participating in such a simple program, attending and serving healthy food to the homeless has enriched my experience as a human. Recognizing the raw vulnerability we all carry, whether living in homes or living closer to nature, none of us have the answers to the dilemmas our culture faces in this day and age. With just the smallest interactions I have had with our homeless population, I have discovered it is not so important, where we live, what we have, but more important is how we show up, what basic human kindness we show to one another. Beyond the scruffy exterior, there are talents unseen that come to light in these weekly gatherings. People taking food to friends who are to sick or fearful to attend the public luncheon. Just yesterday a homeless woman, quite young, parents had died, and her Aunt kicked her out of the house with a bus ticket and little more. She sat at the piano in the church and transported me to the finest concert hall with her musical ability. Who would have known such talent rested inside this woman, just waiting for the opportunity to emerge. For too long I have been caught up in labels…… I begin to discover what true value is held within each individual life, a precious lesson to discover. Sadness now takes the place of my hardline attitudes when I hear how these people are harassed and criminalized, (issued citations they cannot pay) for the slightest infractions. Or thrown in jail as a result of their response to being prejudged or succumbing to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Can we as a community find a more compassionate response to this widespread issue?

~By Douglas Raglin