Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day Five: Family Fractions

Blame it on my crabby exhaustedness, airplane woes that caused Alisa and Graham to arrive at 12am or the scrambling that resulted in our only transport options being a rental car with a rented infant car seat, but within 12 hours of arrival, Alisa and I have already needed a mediated therapy session with our couples counselor.

I'm not telling you to make you worry about the state of our relationship or to complain publicly about relationship woes. Rather, I tell you because I think it's important to model that even this brave street retreat warrior needs a support network to get through tough times like this.

Typically, I'd skip discussing my behind the scenes process and just tell you about the bits that seem like a good homily for the day. But, I must confess as someone who has slept on the streets in multiple cities, I only lasted 12 hours with a baby before I needed professional help to handle the realities of trying this with a baby.

Because Alisa's flight was arriving after shelter hours, I followed the rules of a typical shelter and asked for an overnight pass and received permission. I got permission from Pastor Stacy to park the rental care overnight in the lot at herchurch (which is in a quite safe neighborhood).

Because we were parked on private property, I thought I wouldn't have to worry about the law against sleeping in your car, that violating might cause Child Protective Services (CPS) to investigate our family. Because the car was warm, the doors were locked and it was a lot like camping I thought I'd be able to sleep in the car and write a poetic blog about the thousands of families that live in vehicles because they're afraid of CPS.

But I only lasted about two hours.

I have slept in the streets, alone, exposed and vulnerable countless times but I could not sleep with the baby in a car.

Poor Alisa, had to wake up again (now it was 2:30 am) as I drove to the Fools where we could sleep indoors, sleepily schlep all of our luggage and grumble at each other in our exhaustion.

At most we got about three hours of disoriented sleep.

When we got up I was delighted to be greeted by hugs and smiles of homeless family members whom I journeyed with for a decade and I loved getting to share my new family with them.

The ability to have Graham meet my colleagues and friends in the Bay Area is worth more than I can say.

But I also know, now more than ever that my heart cannot stomach a child for real or as part of a retreat living in a shelter, a car or any situation that does not provide safe shelter.

We'll see if Alisa and Graham continue on this journey with me or head home early.

Regardless, today I pray for all the parents and children doing everything they can to keep their families safe and sheltered.

Perhaps it's the exhaustion. Perhaps I've caught that spirited fire that I'm always looking for on the streets that will fuel my passion for another year of grueling, underpaid and often thankless work.

But today I beg you to fund the work that I must do for and with the homeless over the next year.

I'm the professional they call when there day is too hard.

And it's time to get back to work.

And, as I will do everyday of this street retreat I'll beg you, if you are able, make a secure online donation to Welcome, or participate in our reverse auction.


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