Yesterday. By Pat S.
From Pat Schwiebert:
Yesterday , as I was arriving at Sunnyside Park to greet some our peeps, I noticed two teachers in the school yard trying to get a man to move from their space. I parked my car and went immediately to assist them. I had never met the man before. The teachers seemed relieved that I might possibly be able to help. I knelt down and began to quietly talk with him. I introduced myself and asked him his name. “Jonah”, he said. I asked if he needed anything. He replied, “No, I just want to be left alone.” We can do that, but first we need to get you to the other side of these rocks. Let me help you up.” Jonah got up with a little assistance, declined the opportunity to sit on the bench. He wanted to sleep stretched out on the grass. I helped him down. I asked if I could get him anything. He requested only a blanket. I offered food, but he said no. I returned shortly with a blanket and brownie. He gratefully accepted both. He thanked me for being kind. I learned that he had been in Portland for six years and that he was 63 years old. I left him as he drifted off to sleep. About an hour later I saw him going down Yamhill without his newly acquired blanket so I went and retrieved it. A few minutes later Jonah appeared again and wanted to know where he could get some food. He was obviously not familiar with the neighborhood. I pointed him in the direction of Belmont Street and assured him he could find a market just a few blocks away. He did have enough change to purchase something to eat.
Jonah reminded me that many of our friends on the street don’t usually travel far. Many have bad feet and their shoes are well worn. They know what’s available in their own small area of town. They know safe hiding places, where to get out of the rain, where to get food, what neighbors are friendly and those that are not.
I often see people bedded down at churches. Churches are the least likely to shoo them away if they aren’t being disruptive. For many, churches are considered a sanctuary. When I see them “hugging “ a church building to stay dry or find a little warmth I remember what I, as a Christian am called to do. I am to love my neighbor.