THE HOMILY————————It was more than seven decades ago, that I held on to the back of my mother’s long skirt, inside our kitchen while she made sandwiches. I then watched from our kitchen window, as on occasion a very poor and ragged man, walked from our nearby railway yard, to knock on our back kitchen door.Mother always answered, and then she handed out a bologna or a peanut butter sandwich.
Once, on a bitter and cold, rainy day, one of the men, shivering, asked if he might step inside to warm up. He was wearing a khaki-brown-colored shirt and trousers: I know now that it was a well-worn Military uniform…but without a jacket. Responding to his request to come in, Mum smiled as if to a friend, and she said “no, I have children inside, but I will bring you some hot coffee”.
He smiled back; he understood.
And she brought him his hot coffee. And, through all of this…she taught me:
She taught me that during a walk on our city’s sidewalks, through our neighborhoods, or along our rural paths, when someone sees the glow of a lamp through a window, one feels safe — if our own home is nearby.
But while walking along that same city street, within the same suburb, near the same rural path, if one is homeless,
sleeping on the street near a steam grate for heat,
or hiding in an alley near a dumpster for food,
or camping in a field waiting for dawn to find work,
then there is no feeling of safety.
It was more than five decades ago, during my freshman year in college, that I met Bob, a brilliant and handsome student, a sixth-generation Quaker, and an ardent activist for social justice. As he became my college sweetheart, and as we started out on our permanent path together, in Causes for the Least Among Us, Bob taught me:
He taught me that, yes, opening our hands to help the needy, sharing all that we have, this is a good path.
However, Bob also taught me that we need to always find a common denominator with each other, with the so-called “other,” and that we must also be immersed in ardent activism: marching, protesting, teaching, sharing. He taught me that it is activism in solidarity with our homeless, our street neighbors, that will bring everyone to that place with the glow of a lamp through the window.
It was more than three decades ago that Bob was asked to serve as a volunteer Board Member of the-then-recently founded CASS, our City based shelter serving all of our homeless neighbors in our County. Harmoniously, during the same year, Congressman Rhodes graciously appointed me to serve on the Arizona Congressional Military Academy Selection Committee. It was then and there that I met wonderful young women and men, graduating from their high schools, and they taught me:
They taught me how eager and prepared they were, how ready they stood to become part of our Troops to defend our United States of America, to bring peace to our world.
And, now, we are in a stark present reality of a confused world, where and when I am trying to learn more. I have questions:
If less than 8 percent of our American population have served in our active Military, why are 12 percent of our homeless population Veterans?
Have some of our worthy Troops been used, and then their service diminished, when they retire to become Veterans?
Whether serving or retired, whether residing in their barracks, or sleeping on the lonely street, don’t all of our Veterans deserve our glory?