I go walking along the freeway overpass on a rainy Monday afternoon looking for homeless people. There are a handful of tents lining the fence where the bike path and on-ramp meet. I met three people here last week and want to see if everyone is ok. This area was swept by the city and the folks that are left seem more isolated than usual. Ronald is on his way to take a shower and looks like he has stepped off the set of a Mad Max movie. He is carrying a giant backpack with smaller bags attached to it with bungee cords. I give him some water and granola bars, which he stuffs into his cargo pants. As he lumbers off, he tells me, “Things could be worse!” Trevor lives in a tent under the bike path and I hand him socks and water. I can’t hear him because of the freeway noise so we just smile at each other. Karen takes some survival items and, within seconds, has shimmied down the side of the freeway to her tent. All I can think about is my daughter and how dangerous life on the streets is for young women.
I travel down to the off-ramp and meet Gary. Gary is sitting in a wheelchair, in the rain, under a tree. His legs were amputated last year when he got frostbite from sleeping outside. He wants to get into stable housing, but it hasn’t seemed to work out yet. His friends tell me that he has a great attitude and never complains. Privately he confides in me that he gets a little depressed sometimes. I have absolutely no idea what to say or do. I can’t get him into housing, and I can’t take him home. So, I stand in the rain and try to encourage him. He knows all the resources and is a very gentle soul. My only plan is to come back tomorrow, stand in the rain, and talk to him again.
I come back to the freeway overpass and talk with Gary again. He is sitting in his wheelchair staring at the traffic. We chat and he tells me he has had a rough night. The rain and cold have left him hopeless and more depressed. He thanks me for the granola bars and says he needs to get inside. As he pushes his wheelchair back to a tent all I can do is pray for him. “Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best — as above, so below.” (Matthew 6:9-10, MSG).