Coco Calling No. 93 - The Will to Survive and the Grace to Receive
Many of us like to have places where we feel warm and safe. Somewhere we can retreat to in the knowledge that we are sheltered from the elements and tucked away from danger. Humans have their houses, their “man caves” and that other place that they like to call “the loo.” Other creatures have holes or borrows or nooks and crannies. And I have my favourite spot on the clothes airer, hidden amongst the rows of human plumage, all hanging up to dry. (No passing hawk would ever find me there!)
The will to survive is very much etched into our D.N.A. Irrespective of who we are, and whatever may have happened to us in the past. We all need our place of retreat. Even when we own nothing and have nowhere to go. And that’s why homeless humans often take refuge in subways, underpasses and doorways. None of these places offer great shelter, but they are better than nothing.
And I recently heard about one such human that had set up home inside a bus shelter. It kept the rain off his head, and the worst of the wind at bay. In fact, during the run-up to Christmas, this human even adorned the shelter with a set of fairy lights to make it feel more like home.
But of course, a situation like this can cause some difficulties. Because bus passengers could no longer use the bus shelter as originally intended. And humans can be very wary of homeless people. I mean, why are they homeless in the first place? Is it drink or drugs? A violent temper or mental health issues? And do they pose a threat to the rest of us? It can all be a bit of a minefield. Do we object to their presence, quietly ignore them, or do “the Jesus thing” and try to help them? Well, sometimes prayer can offer us the answer. So that we ask for guidance, and then instinctively know what to do. Whether it safe for us to become involved.
In the case of the human in the bus shelter, a few folk were touched by his plight, and they did help. They made sure he received a hot “ready meal” every day. And when it was his birthday, they supplied a cake and a birthday card which made him cry. He cried because it was an act of love which touched him deep inside. Maybe it was the first card he’d received in years.
Whatever, these acts of kindness prevented him from being totally isolated from the rest of humanity. This man was probably no angel. He’d made some serious mistakes along the way. But these few kind people were giving him a way back. An opportunity to reconnect with society instead of staying as a total outcast.
And that’s what God and Jesus are all about. Because just like this man, we are also “sinful outcasts.” And as sinners, we don’t always deserve a way back into the fold. Irrespective of whether we live inside a bus shelter, a palace or a bird cage. But God and Jesus don’t walk on by. They don’t ignore us. Instead of leaving us lost, they offer us Salvation and redemption. Compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness and love are really at the root of what we all need. And if we can offer it to others, without putting ourselves in danger, then we are fulfilling the work of God and Jesus here on Earth. Which is why Jesus told us all to:
“Love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39b)
After a difficult few months of living rough, it seems like this human is poised to return home. To the place where he once lived. And hopefully there he will get a permanent roof over his head, and an abundance of God’s love as he opens a new chapter in his life.