Homeless People: Learn to Live in Abundance
Abundance is the condition of being in rich supply. Ironically, the best model for living in abundance came from a homeless hitchhiker I met many decades ago. This was when I still routinely picked up hitchhikers and sometimes brought them home. He was homeless in the sense that he had no home or permanent place of residence. This particular fellow, whose name I no longer recall, stayed with me for a week, even shadowing me at work. When he decided he’d received what he needed, he knew it was time to move on with his life. I wished him well because he’d given as much as he’d received.
What impressed me about him was his lack of insecurity. Despite not having a penny in his pocket, he didn’t seem worried about where his next meal would come from or where he’d lay his head. He told me he once had a job selling encyclopedias and had set the sales record in his first month. He walked away from that job with no regrets. Perhaps abundance means something different to everyone.
I received another lesson in abundance from a woman I met in a homeless shelter. At the time, I thought that if you lived in a homeless shelter, you lacked resourcefulness. I was wrong. This woman went to amazing lengths to help her daughter maintain ties to her neighborhood and school. She did whatever she needed to do for her daughter. She used the address of a friend so her daughter could stay in her school. She even drove her daughter back to her former neighborhood to go trick-or-treating.
She did all this despite the “help” she received from a transitional housing program for the homeless. She had to live there until she showed “she was ready for a permanent home.” But this model was incompatible with what the woman really needed: above all else, to maintain the social network with her previous neighborhood. The agency serving her didn’t understand that their model was failing the woman; instead. They saw a personal or moral failure on the woman’s part.
In 2001, I was saddened to learn about the passing of Al McGuire, the former Marquette University basketball coach and a respected basketball television analyst. Rick Majeris — a former student, a friend and a successful college basketball coach himself — wrote an obituary. In it, he stated that Al believed and taught that you are poor only when you can no longer dream.
Although not homeless, Al knew that to dream is to contemplate the possibility of doing or being something greater than you are now. Even when you’re homeless, you dream. Similar to my homeless acquaintances, I wish to feel secure without needing an abundance of material things. I dream of the day when anyone who wants a home can secure a permanent place to live. And I’m doing more than just dreaming of it, though.
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Tracy Chapman Dreaming on a World
I’ll keep on wishing
We must always keep dreaming
Of a world
With equality and justice
There could be a world
Without poverty and sickness
Of a world
Without hunger and homelessness
Of a world
Where all people live in peace
Of a world
On a world