Voice and Vision

One Woman's WORDS AND WORKS •grapple •inspire •liberate

151: Never Without Home

When you go to sleep tonight in your comfortable bed, think about the 582,462 other Americans who will be sleeping in an odd assortment of shelters because they have no homes–unless you consider a car a home, or a park bench, or a contrived cardboard hovel, or a cot in a community shelter crowded with strangers.

This morning I opened my computer subscription to the New York Times and clicked on a cleverly graphically-designed article with photos and interviews of homeless people, a subject few of us like to think about. But the facts and photos were unavoidable. I was stunned to learn that 1,205,292 children in public schools are homeless. And that in L.A. 19,000 sleep in cars. That Nashville, just blocks away from its tourist attractions, has one of America’s oldest homeless encampments. My own state of Maine has 4,400 individuals who are homeless–doubled from 2,204 last year.

Reasons people are homeless are complicated. Yes, some are because of drugs and alcohol, but more are homeless because of one fatal occurrence–like a job loss, or an unexpected astronomical medical bill, or escape from an abusive spouse or parent, or an insensitive government’s unwillingness to provide necessary programs or low-income housing. Many reasons may have caused homelessness, but everyone who wants a home deserves one.

I think of the 24.5 million millionaires in our nation and wonder why anyone should be homeless if every person cared about every other person. Can a Taylor Swift or a Beyonce or any one of our U.S. Congressmen, the majority of whom are millionaires (some even billionaires), contentedly live in their several homes (and yachts) apiece, with every necessity and luxury, knowing 582,462 have next to nothing?  Why does it not occur to the wealthy to share? I mean really share, not just give some token amount to a homeless charity as an easy tax-write-off.

Everyone needs a home of their own. Perhaps only a small apartment or one of the new tiny but well-designed 600 s.f. houses currently being built in some cities, but something that is affordable, attractive, with the breath of nature about it (beauty does not cost a thing, it simply takes a creative mind-set that comes naturally or can be learned).

I have painted on my entry hall wall these words:  Home is not a place but a power of Love and grace. Christ Jesus was homeless. In Matthew 8: 20 he says: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. More than a place, home is giving love, feeling loved, belonging. Each of us has the ability–and responsibility–to receive and give love. Through continual loving, and diligent working, we gain employment and home. With each helping another, no one need be homeless.

New Hampshire Summer Cottage,  40" x 32", matted, $775 by Gwendolyn Evans

New Hampshire Summer Cottage,  40″ x 32″, matted, $775 by Gwendolyn Evans

Artwork: New Hampshire Summer Cottage,  40″ x 32″, matted, $775. While teaching at New Hampshire’s Cardigan Mountain School one summer, I spotted and painted this happy house that seemed to capture the essence of home.

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