Post Author: Emily Rose Proctor
This article was originally published at Unbound Justice.
A response to the following news story.
It was late, when she turned onto Caldwell, wondering
if the kids were in bed yet, if her husband had remembered
to take out the recycling. She was ticking through e-mails
still unanswered, when she spotted the dark form, lying
knees to chest on a bench in front of St. Albans.
Just what we need, a vagrant in the neighborhood.
Thank God for the police, she thought
and reached for her phone.
This is where I want to freeze the frame
and help her out of the car.
There is enough room on the bench
for her to sit and rest a minute.
When her mind has cleared
and her breathing slowed,
I want to take her hand and place it gently
on the bronze folds of his blanket.
I want to guide it to the rigid feet, cold and exposed.
I want to take her thumb and place it in the hole.
ABOUT THE POEM: My own conversion to Christianity – and the beginning of my call to ministry – included Christ’s words in Matthew 25, “Whatever you do to the least of these who are members of my family, you do unto me.” I have since experienced the presence of Christ in many people whom society might consider “marginal” or “expendable.” One experience that was formative in opening my heart to those who are homeless was spending a weekend on the streets myself, once in Montreal and once in Atlanta, as part of a Buddhist-led “street retreat.” Another was the year I spent in weekly Bible studies with the homeless at Government Street Presbyterian Church in Mobile, AL. So when I read about the “Homeless Jesus” statue in Davidson, NC, and then heard the Christian woman’s angry reaction to it, I felt a deep need to respond. My challenge as a Christian was to try to do so with compassion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Rose Proctor is a pastor and poet who currently serves as the Director for Young Adult and Global Outreach at Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL. Previously she served as associate pastor at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian in Baltimore, MD. Emily grew up in Dothan, AL and graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 2009. She also serves on the leadership team for the Presbyterian AIDS Network.
Image by: michael_swan
Used with permission