|SF Event Archive|
"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody." ~Mother Teresa With our minds set to reach out to these people, a group of about 20 of us made our way through the streets of San Francisco last Saturday to hand out clothes and toiletries to the homeless.
We seperated into groups of three and four and travelled with bags full of items and hearts full of compassion into different areas of the city. What we found were people, just like us, however living in different conditions. They still wanted to have clean clothes that matched and represented "their style", they worried about whether the blankets that they had were enough to keep them warm as the temperature continued to drop, and they made sure that their partner/friend(s) had plenty of layers. It became obvious that any of us could have found ourselves in the same situation, if only life had taken a different twist or turn somewhere along the path.
Every person that we encountered expressed their gratitude with such sincerity it was overwhelming. However, their gratitude was not simply a result of our giving them clothes, it arose out of appreciation that we were taking time to go to them, to talk to them, to spend time with them and recognize that they were living, human beings in need. They wanted to talk, to share, and to connect. They told us stories about where they were from, shared music on their walkmans, and expressed concern for their sick friends. They were so happy to have someone there listening, without passing judgement, just being present with them. Volunteers received so many blessings, thank-yous, hand shakes, and almost every time, a huge, heartfelt smile.
As we met afterwards in a warm apartment, roof overhead, plenty of food and drink to be had and no major worries of where the next meal would come from and whether we'd be sleeping in the rain that night, our appreciation for our own life situations was quite obvious. As people shared their stories about the day we basked in the special moments shared and connections that were made. Once again, we realized that in giving, we were also receiving and perhaps we received more than the people we visited.
As one friend put it, "I can't really describe how I was feeling. I think that the best word would be 'light'.Yes, I think that's the only way I can describe it."
Perhaps this "light" feeling came from the actual giving, or maybe it came from the opening of our hearts and allowing all that was inside to overflow completely, outside of us and into others, or maybe it was the fact that we had shed fears that had burdened us and kept us away from interacting with these people. Whatever the case may be, each volunteer ended the day with appreciation and a lesson in giving.
"Good works are links that form a chain of love. " ~Mother Teresa
The chain includes all who planned the event, those who donated, those who shopped, those who sorted, those who spent their Saturday handing out donations, and the people that we met on the street and spent our time with.
Thank you for sharing in this experience.
(on behalf of the entire crew!)