Today, after our visit to the vet (Lucy has been unwell and we spent the entire morning at the vet’s clinic), we walked along the familiar streets of our former neighbourhood. I strained my eyes to focus, through the pounding sensory headache that had wrapped itself tightly around me, and scanned the sides of the road for M’s little beat-up old van. Nowhere in sight. I felt downcast and disappointed. I wanted to walk further to search for him, but both Lucy and I were not in robust enough physical condition. So I took her home. When we entered the beautiful sensoryscape of our temporary home, I was hit by a wave of sadness. The contrast was overwhelming, that I had the privilege of living in such a wonderful home, while my friend M was out there, alone, and without.
Shelter. Safe accommodation. A roof over the head. A door to close. A space inside. We all need this.
Sadly, some do not have shelter to call their own. For myriad reasons. No matter how they arrived at that unfortunate impasse, homelessness is a tragedy on more levels than one.
We – those of us who have homes – tend not to specifically take note of the dimension of homelessness. And even when the topic crops up in our dinner-party conversations (or whatever other social scenario?), the inclination is to lump the people up into one generalised ‘frame.’
Lucy was the channel that connected me to individuals living in this state of uncertainty and insecurity. Through Lucy, I began to get to know a few homeless people as individuals, and they became friends, people who I included into my social routine, and I looked forward each day to meet and chat with them during our walks.
One special friend who has remained in our sphere through the three years is M. I do think about M a lot. He is often in my thoughts and prayers.
This song is one that has always struck an empathic chord, and yes, I did live for awhile in London. Now, in a different part of the world, all the way Down Under in Sydney, the streets may look different, but the same song is significantly more powerful and poignant to me than ever before. Knowing people as persons – the sound of their voice, sharing humour, vignettes, coffee, sandwiches, homemade bread – makes all the difference.