homeless man

Is love a simple answer for our homeless population?

One evening earlier this year, after a short shopping trip with my two sons, as we headed back to the car park, we passed a man begging by the car park entrance. At first we passed him by, but my conscience tugging, I sent my elder son Jacob, back, with some money. As Jacob handed him the money he smiled and started speaking to my boys, telling them to be good for their mum, and thanking us. He seemed kind, friendly, and no different to us. We continued then to our car, where I felt upset and the thought occurred that OK, whilst we gave him some money, what the man really wanted was love. He’d seen a family pass him by, once upon a time been a part of a family, his words suggesting he’d had a mum to be good for too once upon a time. I have no idea if his past caused him pain or what his story was, however, in that moment I decided to give love to the next homeless person I met.  Money perhaps, but love, definitely.  In whatever form seemed right in the moment as it presented itself.

It was quite a few weeks later that I met Neil. I’d been to a business event at Birmingham’s town hall, and was walking back to my car in my smart business clothes, rushing along and juggling paperwork and my handbag as it started to rain.  I passed him at first, he looked at me, not stopping to ask for anything.  It was pure instinct that caused me to turn back, and approach him.  He was dirty and clearly homeless, and he looked embarrassed as I asked if he needed some money.

He said;

“I wouldn’t ask, it’s just that where I’m sleeping is soaking wet, I’ve got nothing”.

I emptied the change from my purse (there wasn’t much in there) into his hand, and looked into his eyes, the window to the soul. There I saw kindness, sadness, a mirror, a person, a human being. A human being who was suffering.

I asked the homeless man if he wanted a hug

His shock was palpable as was his obvious need for some love.

He said “But I smell” and started to cry.  As we hugged for the longest time, he cried and cried, telling me how and why he had lost everything, trying to explain in a brief moment why he was in his desperate position.  I asked him to believe that he was worth a good life, worth as many good things as anyone else.  “If you do one thing, just believe that things will get better” I said.  We exchanged names and Neil said he hoped to see me again.  I hoped that I would see him again, in much better circumstances, and walked away feeling the stirrings of something that has not gone away.

Afterwards, I didn’t tell many people what had happened.  I asked a Reiki group I am part of to send love and healing to him, and over the months I’ve told less than a handful, I guess for fear that people would think I wanted some plaudits for what I did.  Now, I let go of the opinions of others so I can share this story in the hope that someone, anyone who reads this, will feel compelled to give their love when the situation demands.

I have always had an affinity for people who are homeless, I don’t know why, but I’ve long bought The Big Issue and read many stories of homeless people who have struggled and then transformed their lives, and been inspired by them.  Some of you reading this will say that people bring things on themselves and I can understand how that view arises.  We are each responsible for our own reality, but that doesn’t alter the fact that at times each of us needs help to grow or move out of a difficult time. Love has got to result in a better outcome than condemnation, for everyone.

Philosophy says that underneath each of our appearances, behind our physical bodies if you will, we are all one, we are all the same.  It was explained to me that we are each a lightbulb, with exactly the same wattage, it’s just that over time the lightbulbs get dusty, some more so than others.  But fundamentally, we are all the same.  I believe that what we are is love.  And what we need is love.  The Beatles had it right with their song “All you need is love” … Love is all you need.  Underneath the clothes, the jobs, the cars, the houses, we all want to feel fundamentally and securely loved, by ourselves and others. With love I really believe that anything is possible.

There have been plenty of studies done on babies born prematurely and babies put into orphanages, studies on how important touch is, and how babies will not thrive without it.  We grow into adults and hopefully we have this touch and love in our lives, as it is so essential to us all.  And yet, if you are homeless, what then?  I know many wonderful people who will stop and speak with a homeless person, go and buy food, have a chat. I know a wonderful man Ian Northcutt who runs a charity for the homeless called Socks and Chocs, and there are many such charities in the world making a difference every day. Souls that give love are everywhere.  There are however plenty of people who will walk past, not acknowledging this other life that exists.  Homeless people are some of the most marginalised in our society, the unseen, the inhuman, utterly disengaged.  Every time they are ignored or even abused, it compounds a problem rather than offering a solution.  If every single one of us chose love, above any other response, then love would be the result.  And then perhaps miracles?

I am sharing this story as a call to do just that, to give love, to be love; please can we treat everyone, not just homeless people, with love.  Do it for a day and see what happens.  It may be your way of life already in which case YAHOO! But if not, let’s start a movement, a loving and harmonious movement, where the little, tiniest actions of love have a ripple effect, and spread love where it is most needed.

I don’t have all the answers, I know a lot is required to change the reality for so many homeless people in our society and others.  But, let’s focus on what we CAN do, rather than what we can’t. If one person makes a difference to one person in one moment, that’s a start. We know what happens with little acorns.

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it” is a Chinese proverb that I love.  Anything is possible.

I will leave you with the wise words of The Beatles who put this so much more eloquently that I can, and with my love.

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy

Nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Recommended Reading:

Loveability: Knowing How To Love And Be Loved

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

Awakening The Buddha Within

Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Trisha January 28, 2016 at 3:44 am

    What a beautifully written article: composed, well balanced and presented without judgement. Extremely powerful and memorable way to deliver a personal experience; I am sure I will not be the only one who remembers the message in this piece for a while – well done and thank you for creating this for us all.

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