Some of the consolations of “home” are small, even a little silly. A favorite of mine: feeling my keys in my pocket, knowing that they’ll open the door to our apartment. Others include having a relatively safe place to keep my stuff while I’m going about my business in the world, and watching the rain and snow fall from the comfort and warmth of indoors. Small,a little silly, but these things bind us not only to other humans but to the whole sentient world.
Many reasons – psychological, biological, sociological, economic, political, emotional and spiritual – help account for homelessness. Understanding what it’s like to be homeless is a different matter. If I try to imagine a life without the small comforts mentioned above, though, I feel dread – perhaps a hint, if nothing more, of the day-to-day reality of not having a roof above and walls all around.
There are as many approaches to mitigating homelessness as there are reasons accounting for its existence. They fall along spectra running from private to public, from softened hearts to tough love, from housing conditional on personal change and growth to “Housing First”. The Covenant local congregations will adopt in a prayer service this Sunday advocates no particular approach. It commits us only to work with each other, with the larger DC community and with public officials to reduce homelessness. We want to do what we can to extend the larger stabilities and securities of home to our homeless neighbors. Equally important, though, are the smaller consolations, which bind our hearts one to another and to the whole created order. We often take these consolations for granted, but we’d be in a bad way if we lost them. Covenant-based efforts might help some who have experienced such a loss find what they’ve been missing. The world we share gets a little better whenever this happens.
Rev. John M. Graham