Commentary by Everett Brown -
Homeless Grapevine Vendor
Can a person be homeless and have a house? Is owning a house the same as not being homeless? Some people would say that if you have a house you are not homeless. Other people would say that wherever you lay your hat is your home. Well, I had the opportunity to walk with a homeless man. We shared coffee together, we ate together, and we even slept in the same places together. I wanted to get his perspective on homelessness so I asked him what he thought. He looked me square in the eyes and said, “my friend, a house is nothing but a shell. The person inside the house is what makes it a home.”
This homeless man once had everything most people would love to have. He had a beautiful house, a loving family and a wonderful career. He was very ambitious, educated and well liked by others in his community. But somewhere down the line his ambitions had consumed him. The more he got, the more he wanted. Not being grateful for what he was blessed with, he decided to find gratification outside of his home. Once again the street has stolen a wonderful man’s soul. His family pleaded and begged him to come back. His body returned but his soul was gone. Eventually his wife and kids left him.
There was nothing left but an empty house with wonderful memories. Not until his family was gone did he realize he had given up the most precious thing he ever had, the love of his wife and kids. On his eighth wedding anniversary he decided to walk away from his house. He grabbed something and took the little bit of hope he had left with him.
Today he says he has a new perspective on life. He prays a lot and asks God for forgiveness. His soul is returning little by little. He still misses his family but he put it all in God’s hands. After hearing his story, I felt real bad for him. He said “don’t feel sorry for me, I take full responsibility for my actions. I know today if I stay close to God, everything will work itself out.” I talk to that homeless man everyday when I look in the mirror. Hopefully that homeless man will find his way back home.
Editor’s Note: There are 13 definitions of homelessness by the federal government with the major funder of shelters, HUD, having a limited definition.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #86 in November 2008 Cleveland Ohio.