Last week I was called out by police officers to serve the needs of a young woman who had run out of gas. That doesn’t sound like a chaplain call out! In this case, the person was homeless…The resources she had at her disposal were in another county, so we filled her car with gas and took care of a few other necessities. The officer I was with went way above the call of duty to help by sharing a gift card that had been given to him for such a purpose. Her story would cause nightmares for some…
Sunday afternoon, law enforcement officials called me to a public place to serve the needs of an elderly person in acute crisis. Homelessness blended with dementia was the immediate need. We did what we could in the situation. And, we made arrangements for follow up as well.
Yesterday, while on another call out, I encountered a terrified woman who needed some help communicating her needs. She is a Spanish speaker from a Central American country. When I step in to translate, you know the situation is desperate! I learned a lot about her in a relatively short period of time. And, I was able to take care of the immediate concern with my limited Spanish skills.
I always take a few moments to reflect on such calls. It is my desire to consistently improve in every area of service. As I think about this most recent grouping of call-outs, one thought comes to mind. If you watch the news, there is no shortage of opinions about such social challenges as homelessness and immigration. it’s tempting to believe everything we hear on the news without thinking through things carefully.
When I hear people offering their opinions on such matters, two questions come to mind. Do you care about the homeless person? Do you care about the immigrant? The second question: How much time have you spent with a homeless person? And, how much time have you spent with someone who has come here from another country? Your definite opinions might just change once you realize they have names. They have families. And, they have stories. When you actually interact with people in those situations, it changes everything. And…you will also come to the stark realization that these issues are very complicated. There are no simple answers.
After reflecting, this is what I learned this time… I must refuse to form opinions about important issues related to people from the comfort of my easy chair in my air-conditioned man cave, as I watch cable news. I care about people too much to be that simple minded. I am so thankful I get to do what I do. I really am fortunate.