Gran's Apple Butter Blog

November 10, 2010

Going Home, Excerpt: Homeless (3/VI)

Filed under: Book Series,Books,Front Porch Rambles,Going Home,Gran — Mary Batson - FrontPorchRambles @ 1:10 pm

Chapter 3 Homeless
from Going Home, by Mary Batson

But what about people who don’t have homes? Those we look at and label “homeless” when we may not even understand what that means?

Gran said there are a lot of ways to look at that word. She’d had friends who lived on the streets, and from what they’d shared, she’d learned not to judge a book by the cover. Not to judge, period. Some friends had had really tough life experiences, which Gran said revealed what strong souls they were. And some had wound up there through ways they could hardly remember, sad stories of lost loves and lives or health or jobs, caught in cycles they couldn’t seem to break out of without a little help.

Each person had a different story; each story was worth listening to and learning from. Gran said she’d learned not to pass anyone by – each was just as much a child of God as she. Nor could she assume to know the whys-and-wherefores of another’s situation. Life can have some unexpected bumps, and maybe someday she’d need a little help herself. Or maybe this God-made-flesh person in front of her was one of those Angels Unaware she’d heard about. Who knows? There were many possibilities, so Gran was always ready to lend a hand or a dollar or an ear or a ride, to serve each person in whatever way presented itself as highest good, just as she would serve any of her other neighbors.

At the same time, Gran said she’d had to let go of the stereotypes she’d been taught about these friends. Like the idea that they needed her help, like she was something better than they were, that she was more powerful in some way. Why, that wasn’t true at all! How arrogant! She was just another human. She couldn’t help them that way. But she could serve them, as they found their own way, and that was highly different, from both side’s perspective.[i]

Once she’d gotten past those old labels, Gran said she met so many new friends, including some of the happiest people she’d ever known. Like her friend Stan, who’d chosen to live under a bridge. He LOVED his life, said it was free and easy and a lot less work. He could pick up and go whenever and wherever, without having to give notice to a boss or hire a real estate agent. That was the free-spirited life he had chosen, yet he said the hardest part was getting others to respect this as a valid choice.

Even more challenging was the situation with Gran’s friends Tom and Lisa, whose son had made the same choice Stan had. Tom and Lisa were NOT happy about that, and in trying to convince their boy to live their dream, they managed to totally alienate him, so they couldn’t even be friends. But there was a happy ending: After several years, good ol’ Mom and Dad realized all they could control or change was themselves. They made the tough decision to do just that, and then they actually DID it.

This changed how they related to their son, respecting and accepting him on equal terms, rather than their own. No, he didn’t change his lifestyle – but the whole family was able to build a bridge to reconnect as people who loved and respected each other, without worrying what kind of home each had picked to live in. Lisa told Gran later that was the hardest thing they ever chose to do, but they sure were glad they did it, ‘cause the reward of having their boy back in their lives was worth all the hard work of letting go.

Yes, Gran would say, leaning back in her chair as she smoothed her apron over her lap, it’s important to remember that labeling something to simplify it will never let us see all the truths behind that label. Never forget the ballad of Tina and Stan, she’d say. Tina, living on her hill in her mansion of gold, felt like a penniless pauper, and Stan, living like a king under his bridge, couldn’t have been happier.

When it’s all said and done, Gran said, true poverty, the deepest, darkest kind that leaves you feeling like you’ve no place to call home, is a state of mind. Then, tongue in check, she’d add: What the heart don’t mind, don’t matter. And if it really matters, the heart won’t mind. 

[i] For more on helping vs. serving, see Rachel Remen’s “In the Service of Life,” Noetic Sciences Review, Spring 1996, online at
© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010. All rights reserved.
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