August 2000 Archives

back from germany

It's the middle of the week, I'm just now recovering from jet lag, and Amy is in Kentucky until the 23rd.

Yesterday, on my way back from lunch, I drove right by one of the many shelters in Portland that serve lunch to the city's homeless. The line wrapped around the block.

Amy's plane had a difficult time landing in Kentucky. The weather was horrible, she said, and the plane was bouncing around in the sky in ways that commercial jets shouldn't bounce.

When I pulled up to the light and looked to my left at the long line of my hungry and homeless neighbors, I thought about what it used to be like when I lived downtown. Every day, I encountered people like this -- people living on the street, for whatever reason. Sometimes they asked me for money. And sometimes I gave it to them. More often than not, we just ignored each other.

The cats across the street -- the strays we feed every day -- were really glad to see me. There was a six-day period between Amy's departure and my arrival. Dad fed them at least once while we were gone, but I'm sure they were hungry. The one with the scratchy voice was really vocal. I don't know if she was happy to see me, or if she was angry that I'd been gone for so long.

The funny thing about Germany: I never saw a single homeless person. Granted, we didn't visit any of the really big towns: Berlin or Munich or Frankfurt. And we were right smack in the middle of one of the richest parts of the country. It's strange though. When you don't see people suffering (though they are suffering, the world over) it's hard to think of them at all.

I had to wait a long time to hear from Amy after her flight, because of the time difference. So there were hours there when I was wandering around Europe just hoping that she was okay. It may have been difficult, but she made it. Thank God. I would give anything for her.

And yesterday, I drove right by a line (stretched around the block) of people in need. What is my responsibility to them?

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