“The thought of it haunts me!”
Today is October 31 but most of us refer to it as “Halloween.” Kids think of Halloween as a time for pumpkins, costumes and candy. As we get older it is generally associated with all things scary. So today I pose the question: “What haunts you?”
This thought came to mind because it reminds me of an interesting conversation I had a while back with the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, Andy Bales. I asked him how he stays so faithful over the years working on skid row and seeing the daily devastation. His answer, has stuck with me, “When I see people living on the streets it haunts me.”
“Haunts” is a powerful word. Synonyms are “anguish and torment.” That’s heavy. He’s not haunted by skid row because it scares him. He’s haunted because of how scary it is for them to experience such a plight. He’s haunted by the reality of them living on these dangerous and filthy streets instead of finding shelter.
When you think of homelessness what words come to mind?… “Mental illness, depression, poverty, addiction, unemployed, hungry, dirty, lonely, invisible, unwanted, unloved?”
How much does it affect you emotionally? I wonder how much farther along we would be in the fight against homelessness in our society if we were all “haunted” by the reality of this issue.
I remember the first day I drove into Skid Row as an employee of the mission. I had been there many times before as a volunteer. But this time, I was not only becoming a staff member, I was literally moving into my office to live there during the week. This was my new neighborhood and the people struggling on the 52 blocks of skid row were my new neighbors.
I vividly remember praying this prayer, “God, help me NEVER to get used to what I’m seeing. Help me NEVER to become immune to the suffering on the streets. May it always move me, to not just feel something, but compelled to DO SOMETHING about it.”
Today, on Halloween, if you happen to be in your house giving out candy to the kids, or taking your children or grandchildren door to door in the neighborhood…
Maybe you could say a little prayer for those who have nowhere to call home, no house to live in, and none of the comforts that go along with it… and maybe too… you could ask God to cause us all to be “haunted” by that thought… in a good way… in a way that compels us to DO SOMETHING about it.
Andy & Dan at the Union Rescue Mission – Skid Row, Los Angeles