Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There Go I

Although the world is very full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.
-Helen Keller-

There's been something eating away at me all week.  I've been trying to brush it aside with good thoughts, but it keeps coming back to haunt me.  There is a park around the corner from my home, and although adults without children are no longer allowed sit in the park due to fear of pedophiles, there are benches surrounding the outer park, and this  is where the homeless sit,  day in and day out.  It breaks my heart to see it, outreach teams have tried to bring them in off the streets, but they choose not to go.  And one can't force them to go, not until the temperature outdoors becomes extremely cold.

At one time it was only a group of men.  Now I am noticing women sitting there as well. This past Saturday there was an elderly woman who was white-haired and appeared to be in or close to her 70's.  The poor thing was eating an ONION.  That was obviously all the food that she had.  I had money in my bag, but I learned along time ago that that only goes to buy  alcohol, if not for her,  the men who were milling around would find a way to get some out it, so I figured when my food delivery arrived at home, I would take her some of the fruit and treats I had bought.  I did bring her back some food, which she refused to take from my hand, looking at me with distrust, so I just set it down on the bench next to her and went back home.  She obviously wasn't used to kindness, but I have to wonder how her family could allow this to happen to her or does she have no one? 

There is another older couple who live from the back of their old station wagon.  Each day they move to a new parking spot and take out a couple of lawn chairs and sit.  She has a cane, and he helps her along.  I've given them the number to our family shelter, but people are so distrusting of the New York shelter system, and from the horror stories I hear from my clients, I can't blame them.     This city is in a bad way right now, and the homeless situation is out of control.  There is not enough affordable housing, especially for seniors, so more and more people are ending up on the streets with no place to go.

What has been sticking in my mind when I think of that lady  is  the saying, 'There but for the grace of God, go I.'  Perhaps this woman and her husband worked all of their lives and lost everything.  Perhaps, like me, every time they got a little bit ahead, something came up that ate away their savings.  Homelessness is something that can happen to any of us. I , myself, am only one paycheck away from sitting next to her on that park bench, and , to be honest, it scares the heck out of me. What if something happens and I can no longer work?  I've worked all of my life, but the amount I would get from social security wouldn't even pay my rent.  Ironically, clients of mine who never worked a day in their life, sold drugs for a living, are being paid more than I would...but that's another story, and I am not going to go there today.  Suffice it to say that if I retired tomorrow, I would barely make $900, but a lifelong drug dealer is bringing in $1700.   Where is the fairness in it all?

But, as I sit here at my desk today, I  cannot help think of that  poor lady on the bench and wonder what her story is.  How did she arrive to where she is at today?  And I wish someone would come along and whisk her off that bench and offer her a safe, warm place to stay.  But would she go?  I think not for, what I can see, she has lost the ability to trust.  And all I can do is sit here and say 'There but for the grace of God, go I.' 


  1. No words, to comment with. You have said them all.

    Gentle hugs,
    "I am excessively fond of a cottage;
    there is always so much comfort,
    so much elegance about them."

    ~Jane Austin

  2. Homelessness is a difficult situation...I've never been to New York City, but I've been to Chicago a couple times and we have some around us in the boonies of Michigan...without knowing why they are homeless...if it's due to situation or choice...perhaps mental problems...some you can help...some you cannot...

  3. What a sad situation to be in. I am so sorry that you have to witnness this everyday. tjhank you for trying to help that woman on the bench. i hopre she was able to eat some of the food you left. Very thoughtful and nice of you.

    Like you, I and my children live pay check to pay check. We make it my working together. Using less water and lights and sometimes sharing ou meals. We also walk as much as possible to conserve on gas. Of course that just makes us healthier.

    Thanks again for doing what you can for the homeless.

    Blessings, V.

  4. 'There but for the grace of God, go I.'
    Words to live by. We don't see that many homeless around here, but i wonder all the time where those people (Families) go when they are evicted or lose their jobs etc. . I'm grateful every day for what i have and that we have an income and never take it for granted.Hugs ♥

  5. Good morning dear Mary......this post certainly touched my heart today. In Phoenix as well as other cities in AZ.....we have many homeless. Each time I see them.....the same thoughts cross my mind.....everyone needs a home and a shelter and food to eat.....Oh....what a mess we have made of things.

    Stay well friend,


  6. It's funny but I was thinking along those same lines myself today. Yes, indeed...there but for the grace go I. It is a wonderful thing to remember when we're tempted to complain about our life circumstances.

    I rarely see any homeless people where I live, and never camping out in the park. Life in the city sounds more difficult than where I live (medium sized town in SC) Although there are a couple of recognizeable homeless people around town, they are usually mentally ill. There are two shelters for the homeless here, as well as one for women and children fleeing domestic violence. The few homeless people I see around town seem reasonably well fed and have safe places to sleep at night, although I know their lives are hard.

    We should never take anything for granted.

  7. NO ONE in these UNITED STATES of AMERICA should be living on the streets ro doing without!
    We help every country, but our own.
    There should be more serices for people that have fallen on "bad times."
    So sad....

  8. Oh, this has been on my mind for years and years...this has been going on for that long. Denial...that's such a strong thing...I know, I've been there from time to time...it's like being in a dream. But that's another story. I love what "My name WAS Female" wrote. Couldn't agree with you more. I could write a couple of novels about this, but I won't burden you all...all I can do right now is try to keep myself and my little family in our home and keep up those positive thinkings and energies. There for for the grace of the Goddess go I.

    PS Oh, I would be more angry with those who "legally" steal from mankind...those who are wealthy and keep wanting and getting more and more of the pie. There really is enough for all ... it's just that those in the throes of greed want it all to fill a hole in the soul that could never be satiated that way. Only LOVE can do that.