A 6 year old perspective…
…on homelessness. Rylee and her Daddy went downtown with our new church family to help provide, prepare and serve a meal at a homeless teen center. This of course sparked all kinds of questions and curiosity about people’s lives who look quite different from ours.
Rylee is our astute observer. Taking in every detail of the world around her all the time. She never wants to miss a word or any nuance in conversation. She is extremely empathetic and I believe largely due to all her health challenges early on in her life, being at doctors, in hospitals, etc. She is a generous giver of compassion and care. I love watching it unfold and I love that in the things that have been most hard in her short little life so far, beauty comes. Her heart for others and desire to nurture and care is, in my eyes, her best quality.
“Mama, there were a lot of boys with long hair. And they had pierced ears too. It was a little hard to tell the difference between girls and boys.”
“I saw someone pick out the brown hat we brought. They wore it all night. They were so happy to have it. It was fuzzy and I’m sure it will keep them warm.”
“I served bread and dessert Mama. At first, I didn’t say anything. I was just kind of getting used to it. Then I started to say ‘Would you like a roll?’ and they would answer or point. I smiled at some of them. Some even smiled at me before I did. Mama, they already know about smiles. I didn’t know if they would. But they did.”
“Mama, why do you think some had holes and jewelry through their lips? If they are homeless then how did they have the money to get all those holes? Doesn’t it cost money? And don’t you think they would spend their money on clothes or food or a place to live?”
She takes a breath from talking a mile a minute, like she always does after she’s done something she has found to be amazing. I think and try to answer in a simple way.
“Do you think they have always been without a place to live? They probably haven’t. They probably lived with their mom or dad at one point. Sometimes people make choices that change their life, or other peoples lives. For good or for bad. And sometimes different choices leave people without homes or food.”
Rylee ponders this and then decides “Maybe it was a gift! Maybe someone gave them holes and jewelry as a gift!”
I smile and decide to simply listen. There are some things best left open ended. Maybe it was a gift. But what’s more important is that I help her see that there’s probably so much more to each story there. It’s never our place to judge and assume we know how they ended up where they are.
It’s just our place to love.