The Scent of Homelessness


I stumbled upon a very inspiring love story this morning, that has made international news.  A young woman, homeless and living in her trailer (sound familiar????) began a blog and people began reading it.  She has been blogging from her trailer and her voice is being heard around the world.  She has even met the love of her life, anothe ryoung homeless man from Scotland.

In reading the original article, I read some of the comments on a related discussion board.  Unbelievable.  I won’t repeat them here, but many people responded with cynicsm, and plain hatred.  Judgements about this young woman being homeless, but able to “afford a laptop”, or goodness, a “cell phone.”

Here is the original article:  http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090831/ap_on_hi_te/us_fea_lifestyles_homeless_blogger

Bri’s blog :  http://girlsguidetohomelessness.com

Matt’s blog:  http://homelesstales.com

The fact is tha t we all want the homeless to stink.  We want them to be dirty, and to smell so badly so we will know when they are around.  We want them to fit our ideas of what “homeless” means.  After I read the article, and visited the homepage of this young woman, and also the blog of her new boyfriend, I was humbled by my own daily ingratitude.

As one who was homeless for over a year, I have forgotten how blessed I am in my current situation.  The present is always very narrow, and I have difficulty looking bakward with gratitude, and forward with humility.

In this current economic crisis, we don’t want homeless people to have cell phones, to have lap tops, or even to have baths.  We want them to be “them” so that we can continue to be our elitist selves, the selves we were before this global meltdown.

In another  post, I had written about my own memories of what being homeless and full of despair, smelled like.   After reading Bri and Matt’s stories, it all comes flooding back.

Living in my trailer — cedar, broken in half, pouring coconut and olive oil, over the splintered wood.  Back to the workshop.   Being homeless isn’t the worst thing in the world to be.  In fact, it was the best thing that ever happend to me.

Being homeless taught me to value people, not things.

Being homeless taught me to try to overlook imperfections in  other people, but to be harder on myself.

Being homeless taught me to adapt and to be flexible.

I learned how to sell things — I didn’t eat if i didn’t!

I learned how to talk to people – instead of “at” them.

I learned to see people, no matter how big or important they are, as just another insecure sot, who needs my compassion.

I learned how to defend myself – self defense is not a sin, and it often prevents people from hurting others.

Being homeless taught me to stand up for people weaker than myself.  I’m not a big person – I’m very small.  But even the smallest person can face down an evil giant and win.  I know because I have done it.   (Christian people who say violence never solved anything have forgotten their Bible:  David and Goliath —anybody??? anyone???)

I am humbled by my many blessings.  I am no longer homeless.  Yes, my job is nightmare.  But I am BLESSED.

Forgive me, Lord, for my ungrateful attitude and selfishness.  Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

Holy Guardian Angel, when I forget, when I get prideful, please remind me.

The original "home" of BPI...

The original “home” of BPI…no water, no toilet, no heat, no TV, no computer, no kitchen, no food.

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2 Responses to “The Scent of Homelessness”

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words.

    Overall, most of the comments and emails Bri and I have been receiving have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive but yes, we have seen some negativity too. I have been advocating for the homeless for some time and so negativity is something I have become accustomed to seeing. I believe that in Bri’s and my own case this attitude is largely borne from fear. People are generally more comfortable in believing that homelessness can only occur through alcoholism, mental illness, laziness or bad choices. This allows them to believe they are immune. The last thing they want to see is this happening to articulate, educated, intelligent people without any of those issues.

    People lash out when they feel threatened.

    Matt (Homeless Tales)

  2. desertseeker Says:

    Thank you for another thought-provoking post, Columbina. I don’t really think about homeless or not, rich or poor, educated or not. I think heart and soul. I am drawn to people who are spiritually rich regardless of how they smell. The Desert Fathers would probably fall into the category of the repulsive homeless in today’s world. And yet their legacy will live on forever. “God chose the weak and foolish things of this world to shame the wise.” Thank you for your perspective and God bless you, as well as Matt and Bri.

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