Saturday, September 27, 2008

All the Lonely People

27 Sep 2008

In our temporary life here in Oxford, there are no deadlines, no obligations, no worries. I walk around, enjoying myself without a care. (And I don't want to go home!) But as I observe other people, I realize many people around me have anxieties, griefs, and perplexities. There are new students getting oriented to the university and accustomed to being away from home for the first time. There are young people at the point in their lives where they're looking for a loving and lasting relationship. Older people have family troubles, illness, economic woes. I see people at church who are in intense prayer as if they're wrestling with difficult problems that may not have good solutions.

We can see a homeless shelter from our window. Since the weather has generally been nice, the homeless people hang out in the alley-way. Some are too hung-over or damaged to do much more than sit or lie, but frequently arguments errupt among them. We hear shouting and cursing. Sometimes there are fights. But there's seldom serious trouble. These unfortunate people seem like mal-adjusted young adolescents.

Normally there's a gate between the homeless shelter and the parking lot behind our building. Apparently it's not working at the moment, because it stands open. This gives me a convenient short-cut to town, one I especially appreciate when I'm carrying groceries home. But it also allows the homeless people to wander about our building. Don was surprised one night when arriving home after dark, to see a prone figure near the outside door. When I opened the Daily Bin Store (the place where dumpsters are kept), I almost stumbled over a heap of blankets covering a sleeping form. I figured they were less eager to see me than I was to see them, so I went ahead and deposited my bag of garbage. I notice more trash strewn around the place.

I suppose the gate will soon be fixed and the homeless people will be shut out once again. But I don't find them frightening. They're more pathetic than dangerous.

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