I am called to be present; to meet, see, hear, and be my brothers and sisters on the streets. The first step to this is acknowledging everyone's human dignity.
This is tough because I too was raised to have judgments of those suffering from poverty. These judgments, I've experienced, fade away by meeting people where they are. The power of being intentional breaks through the myths of all people and brings color to the world.
Doing this I see God in all. I am able to see a common humanity; that leads to celebration, community, and healing.
Here are some of the more common questions I get asked. Feel free to ask me anything else. I would love to share more about my experience!
Where did you eat?
Eating was not that difficult. If I wanted to eat in the morning Glide was always an option
(8 am). For lunch, I liked St. Anthony's over Glide (11:30 am). And for dinner I could have always gone to Glide (4 pm). Those are really the two main places. But there are so many other groups and organizations that serve food and give away bagged food throughout the month. There is a sheet of paper that shows all the organizations in San Francisco that give away food, the times that they serve, where they serve, and sometimes what they serve. Having so many options and meeting so many people that give away food helped me with staying sane. With all the ugly that comes with being on the streets it was refreshing seeing the good in the world.
Where did you sleep?
The Faithful Fools are affiliated with the Unitarian Church of San Francisco. So they let us sleep in front of their church for the week; we constantly reflected on that privilege. Three of us tried to sleep on Golden Gate Ave one night but that didn't work out (I talk about it in my last reflection). I mentioned to some people that I was going to try to stay in a shelter but didn't end up trying. Being alone all day not really talking to anyone, I looked forward to coming together with the group at night. Other than the first night of rain and one other night where it was really cold, the weather wasn't that bad. The sleeping bag I had was perfect (shoutout to the Crocker's for letting me have it). I was usually asleep by 10 pm and woke up around 6 am everyday.
How did you stay clean?
I showered at a shelter once. I think I changed my socks everyday. If I was prepared for anything that week, it was having plenty of socks. Other than that I think I tried not to think about being dirty that much. There is really no point because there isn't much you can do about it. When I told my mom I was going to do this retreat one of her main concerns was me not being able to brush my teeth. Here you go mom!
Where did you use the bathroom?
When we woke up we were allowed to go in to the church and use the bathroom. Again, we always reflected on this privilege. Other than that I tried to take advantage of the bathrooms from the different organizations I went to everyday. I really had to be strategic about when to use the bathroom. I constantly was thinking about when I was going to be able to use the bathroom next.