It was a fun night celebrated with friends
that brought me to downtown Portland.
That’s the Oregon one
(pronouned Or-ree-gahn by the out of towners) -
not the one in Maine on the OTHER coast.
It was on the walk back to the car that I saw it.
The “it” was a bundle of blankets in a doorway.
No. There was more. “It” was more than that.
There was a person wrapped up in those blankets.
Not an “it”. A “Who”.
A Who was bundled up in blankets in the
doorway of a building that I was walking by.
I was walking by.
We were walking by.
Others were walking by.
Everyone… was walking by…

I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

I just can’t get rid of the vision of a man
tired of walking, tired of wandering; a man
with nothing left but the clothes on his back.
He is hungry… he is cold…
he has no place of his own…

At what point did he realize that he would
need to find blankets, clothing, and rags to
cover himself just to stay warm that night ?
What time did he finally give out,
choosing that doorway as home
and the concrete as his bed?

And then I wonder at what point
was that his new “normal”…

The “American Dream”… epic fail.

The further I walked,
the more of “Them” I saw.

I wonderd how many of those silent Souls were
women and children – whose prayers before
sleep were that they live to see the morning.
And I couldn’t help wonder if there were those
whose prayers were that they would not.

Can you imagine?

No, really – Can you?

Come daylight, they worry about where to hide
what little they have and where to find food to eat.
We see them doing what they can to survive -
with a mix of pity and compassion, tempered
only by quick and quiet judgment.

Would you judge me if I told you that I’ve stood in
food lines for a hot meal and then picked through the
free bread bins hoping to find wheat instead of white?
Would you think less of me if I said that I went to
churches to pick up food boxes to feed my family?

Maybe you didn’t know.
Things are often not what they seem,
and appearances can be so deceiving.
Besides, your eyes were probably elsewhere…

As I walked that night, I did not need to raise my
eyes far to see the homes not far up the hill whose
windows were lit by the glow of flat screen TVs
worth twice as much as I pay in rent a month.
They were doing their job well -
keeping the eyes and minds off
of the real world around them.
After all, who wants to see a bunch of homeless
people sleeping up and down the sidewalks?
How inconvenient is that?!??
Talk about a buzz kill !
I’d much rather spend my time “unwinding”
with a nice cold beverage – watching a show
that takes my mind off of a long, hard day at work.
Find me something to laugh at,
show me something to keep me entertained;
give me something to capture my attention
and make me feel how I want to feel.

Those people outside – Not my problem.
Let someone else deal with them.
I’m sure they’ll find help somewhere.
Besides, there’s nothing I can do.
Seriously – what do you expect me to do?!?
(I’ve got my own problems to worry about)

Guess what?
In the time it took to come up with all your excuses
and all the reasons why you couldn’t help and
what you couldn’t wouldn’t shouldn’t do -
you could have done something.

And whatever thought you just had,
replace it with “Yes, I could have”.
Better yet, “Yes, I can and I will.”

Because I know that each and every one of us
is capable of doing SOMETHING, no matter
how seemingly small or insignificant.

The biggest lie ever told by anyone -
especially TO YOU and FROM YOU
is that you can’t make a difference.
Any time you catch yourself saying
that you’re “just this” or “just that”
I hope you smack yourself hard and say

Wouldn’t it be great to prove yourself wrong
next time you think you can’t make a difference?

Oh, by all means – please do !

And while you’re at it,
take this to heart and
keep it ever in your head:

” I shall pass this way but once;
any good, therefore, that I can do
or any kindness that I can show to
any human being, let me do it now.
Let me not defer nor neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again. ”

The greatest assistance for those in need
does not rest in any program or politician’s palm,
but in the hand that is yours – within reach of another…




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