Today I ventured downtown to attend orientation for another volunteering opportunity. This time, my afternoon hours were spent at a shelter owned by the City of Austin and operated by Front Steps.
A line was formed outside, of which we skipped ahead and were greeted by a friendly volunteer. There, we waited for the community coordinator to give us a tour of the facility. Six girls and I stood waiting and we all looked a little tense. Of course, it wasn’t because of fear or judgement of others that we felt this way. It was more due to shock. The air was stale, the men were loud, and life looked a little more coarse.
This shelter, mainly for men, was packed at 1400 hours. The line for the restroom was almost equivalent to the entrance line to the facility. As our group began the tour, men roared and laughed while their eyes locked on to us.
“Welcome to the hood, FRESH MEAT!”
After an hour, we were all up to par on the facility operations and programs available to the clients. Then, we went upstairs to see the “sleeping rooms.” The coordinator proceeded to discuss how beds become open to the public in need.
“We have a lottery people can enter….
if their number is picked, they win a bed to sleep in for a week.”
Prior to this, I had just heard a man bitching at the gas station about how he did not win the money he had hoped for on a scratch off ticket. Well, I guess we all want to win something. Some just hope to win a place to sleep.
Stepping into the sleeping rooms, my nose began to burn. It smelled sour; a mix of poor hygiene and environmental cleaner. There was no personal space. It looked cold. This was no place to feel comfortable.
I immediately felt humbled. I felt grateful. and I prayed for others.
After our tour, my eyes began lining with tears. I imagined sleeping here. I imagined eating here. I imagined not having a place to call home. I imagined the true feeling of being lost. It all looked so gloomy. Yet, surrounded by this, many looked jovial.
A man’s dilapidated clothing complemented his lackadaisical hygiene, but his smile and laughter were as strong as ever. These individuals are living under unrelenting conditions. Front Steps gives those less fortunate a place to call home, and means to seek better ways of living.
I am counting my blessings this evening….
We long to connect, but we are terrified of being hurt. We want deep relationships, but deep distrust keeps us relationally bankrupt. When we reach out to others, things always get in the way: jealousy, insecurities, fear of being rejected, in differences, busyness, annoying behaviors– a whole range of preoccupations that keep us from relating to others in powerful ways. As a result, our relationships never fulfill us or give us the life God intended.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little bit of a loner. It’s been a big part of my maturing process to learn to allow people to support me. I tend to be very self-reliant and private. And I have this history of wanting to work things out on my own and protect people from what’s going on with me.” Kerry Washington
It’s raining and cold in Austin today. So much for that volleyball game… Better hit the Keurig and jam out to something cool.
Their sounds are intense. So much so that I can only listen to Radiohead in rations like canned food given during a Zombie Apocalypse. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy their music but they’ve never been at the top of my list. My ears always analyzed them as nothing other than some eclectic whining. However, this morning I felt like checking out some Austin City Limits footage on PBS while I drank my Saturday morning java…and I felt like I was completely reintroduced to these guys.
They know how to rock!
Thom Yorke, jumping around the stage-His body harmonizing to the sounds. The crowd…completely in sync.
Check it out http://video.pbs.org/video/2280479428/
“For many in our generation, the strategy of choice is to live for the next extreme rush- instant gratification purchases, quick-dry thrills to fill the cracks in your soul, endorphin-rushed romances and sexual highs, chemically dependent and uninhibited fun- all because it’s the closest you come to feeling alive. But ultimately these strategies destroy the life you seek. Thrills get boring, highs leave you low, romance wilts as fast as it blooms, sex becomes a series of morning-afters. So where do you go to find lasting spiritual qualities, like excitement with peace, adventure with security, and lasting intimacy with sexual contentment?” (Burke, 23).
The cup of coffee I sip is dark and heavy like the thoughts that run through my head. I used to be a latte or a caramel macchiato…now I am drip at best. The least exciting. Blame it on a pot hole as of late. Great and beautiful things can be ruined before they have a chance to grow…..
Currently, I am wrapping my head around paragraphs of positive words and life stories in a book called Soul Revolution by John Burke. Calling on the Bible for many correlations, he speaks of love. About it and how to transact.
Now, when I think of a transaction I recall the nice woman at wal mart who scanned my items, gave me a receipt and I went on my way. Theres more to it. When we engage in a transaction we must give and recieve. Applying this to relationships, I see too many reading declined like my last Visa card purchase (yes, Im broke). Many people seek something to make them feel good, or someone to make them feel good. We as humans have need for interaction, and desire to have our cup filled…we love…love. But, if we’re just trying to find the next best thing, or next best someone to start a relationship with to make ourselves feel good…well, then we’re doing it all wrong.
The word transaction in regard to all forms of love is relatable and simple Give love. Recieve love. Don’t seek it for selfish motives and do not continuously take without giving. And overall, be good to eachother.
The problem I bring to the table is my over developed quality of….well that’s personal but I know what it is. Imagine yourself having one of these terrible behaviorial traits…well, such as insecurity. You know these thoughts and behaviors are not acceptable and should be tossed immediately…rendering a bad attitude that is completely preventable. “GETCHA MIND RIGHT.” But, just like a bad habit, it’s hard to kick and mistakes are repeated.
It’s time for some personal development…