Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hearts for the Homeless

Today's opening meditation:
"Eleven-year-old Devin eyes blink open in the back room of a suburban church. The clock reads 5 a.m. when his mother whispers that it's time to get up. His little sister and brother stir in their cots next to him. Two trash bags filled with the family's clothes are stashed in the corner; a tube of toothpaste, an alarm clock, a bottle of shampoo, and schoolbooks line the only table. For five days this has been home. In three more he will move again, to another church, to another cot in another room.
'Being homeless,' the fifth-grader explains, 'means you don't stay in one spot and have to move around a lot. It gets kind of confusing.'....
Devin pads sleepily into the church fellowship hall to fill a cereal bowl and finish a book report. He didn't get his homework done the evening before because it was shower night. Every other night the family is driven by church volunteers to a neighborhood rec center so they can use the locker rooms. The friendly boy with cropped blond hair and piercing eyes has switched schools eight times since kindergarten, moving from apartments to motels to shelters to friends' houses. He doesn't much like school, except for math. He wishes he could have sleepovers like the other kids....
'The church is okay, but I wish we had a house,' Devin says. He longs for a room to decorate with sports posters. His 9-year-old sister, Sierra, sometimes gets scared when they move; his 6-year-old brother, Conner, gets clingy....
Just before 6 a.m. the family of five steps into the predawn darkness to catch the series of buses that will take the kids to school. It is 75 minutes each way. Their mother gets off the bus with her kids at school to make sure they are on time. She has never missed a parent-teacher conference. After school she'll be there again. There's one things she always makes sure her kids know - that no matter what, they'll always have each other. They'll always be a family. And Devin knows this. So everyday before he leaves for school, he tells her he loves her." (To read the full article, visit: Homeless in the Suburbs)
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live like Devin. To never know where you may sleep next, to have to move from place to place with only a garbage bag full of your belongings, to not have a room to call your own. Imagine for a moment you were homeless. What would that feel like? There are way too many kids just like Devin homeless in the US.
I like to believe home is in your heart. Who we are, what we love, the people in our lives, the things that make us happy, what makes us feel comfortable. When we find comfort in something, anything, we find that sense of home. The one things I pray for when I think of kids like Devin, is that where ever they go - be it a shelter, temporary housing, a church or school - is that they may find comfort, that they may find love, that they may find hope - so that they may find a home in their heart. Think about what message you would like to send these kids and their families. Messages of peace and hope and love.
Keep your heart open to those who have less, but who's hearts are open to receive love. Don't be sad or have pity. Have empathy. Be understanding of what it might be like. Think of what you can do to help - even if it is as simple as a Valentine's Day message. Little things make a big difference. And always be grateful for all you have in this life.

After reflecting and moving through a heart opening class, the Alluem Kids came together to make some inspirational Valentine's that will be strung to hang as Valentine's Day decorations at the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. Alluem Yoga's Yoga in Action group will be hosting this year's Valentine's Day Party at St. Joseph's Soup Kitchen in Elizabeth, NJ....bringing the families dinner, dessert, favors, games and a sense of comfort. And love. We are so blessed to be a part of this evening with an amazing group of people. To spend time together and make true human connections. And the messages from the Alluem Kids will be the icing on the cake. So heart warming and comforting.

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