Hey Everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I hope everyone in the blog world has been doing well.
I’ve had some stuff weighing on my mind lately. I currently live in one of the larger cities in the south. As with any city, we have a fairly large population of homeless people. A few years ago, I helped a local faith based organization feed the homeless people breakfast in one of the larger city parks downtown every week. I would wake up on Thursday mornings at 4:30am, get ready, and drive 45 minutes into downtown. Once there, I would help make up lunch bags for the people to take with them once they had their breakfast. These bags always contained a handwritten Bible verse written on an index card. There was always a time of devotion, prayer, and then time to circulate amongst the people for about an hour while they ate their breakfast. We were there every Thursday, no matter the holiday, rain, or cold weather. There was no less than 50 homeless people that came each week. Sometimes there were over 100. One of the volunteers went around to the people and took individual prayer requests. Most of the people that came (come, I still get the prayer list every week in my email) are regulars. They have been coming for years and still have the same requests. These requests range from needing shelter, transportation, a job, healing of health problems, to overcoming addiction.
It was while I was volunteering with this group that I began to have questions about God. I eventually couldn’t keep telling them that God heard their requests and would make it better because I didn’t believe it. I quit going to the park on Thursdays. Of all of the things that I have given up in the name of atheism, this is what I miss the most. I miss the people and their stories. Every once in a while, there were happy endings and stories of triumph. I miss sharing this. There was a man that came every week that was 88 years old. He had 13 children, lung cancer, and was homeless. He was always thoughtful and had the most amazing stories to tell. The other homeless people helped to watch over him as he was elderly and frail. I will never forget the last time I spoke to him. It was December and was pretty darn cold outside. He had a thermos that he got the volunteers to fill with coffee. He handed it to me and told me to hold it to keep my hands warm while we talked. That particular morning, he was bothered and very emotional. He kept saying “I can’t figure out what God wants with me? What am I supposed to be doing?”. I had no answer. That was one of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. In hindsight, I would have loved to have put him in my car and taken him to the nearest shelter and told him to call family to take him in. Knowing this man, he never would have allowed this to happen. He passed away about 10 months ago. I miss seeing his name on the prayer list each week. He never had a selfish request.
This is what bothers me. The same people come every week and have the same prayer requests, yet nothing ever changes. I wish I could tell them that they are the master of their fate, not some invisible man in the sky. They are the reason behind their circumstance and ultimately have the power to change it. So, I have decided to make up my own snack bags with my own positive message. Who knows, I may even put together my own group and set out to make a difference. I would love to be able to show that religious organizations are not the only ones that can make a positive difference in the lives of others. They do not hold the monopoly on goodness and compassion.