So we are finally settled in enough to get online and update the blog. Somehow I have some extra energy tonight and I feel motivated to do some writing. It probably has something to do with the fact that I drank an espresso at 9:00 at night. We had dinner with some new friends. They treated us to a 10 course meal, it was very gracious and hospitable.
Life here is much different than anywhere else that I have lived (mike is writing this). We meet new people every day. It is an exciting challenge trying to learn so many new names. Most of the people in the neighborhood are very friendly. The worst reaction I have gotten when I say hi to someone is simply being ignored. Most of the time I receive a nice warm smile and a hello.
There are tons of opportunities to help people in this neighborhood. Every week we are blessed with large amounts of food from different sources, for free. We have friends at a soup kitchen that can't use all the food they have been blessed with, like a couple thousand pounds of USDA organic beef and hundreds of cans of soup. We have a relationship with a grocery store that would rather donate high quality organic produce to people in need than throw it in the dumpster. The food bank is another great source where people can get all kinds of food at a tremendous discount. It is a blessing to see how the almighty bypasses the system to provide people in need with the highest quality food. Where there is love there is no need for money.
Everyday is something different. When we wake up in the morning we don't know the situations that we are going to be presented with. Sometimes its a knock on the door from someone who is looking for a pair of gloves, or socks, maybe a bedroll to stay warm overnight. Sometimes its just a hot bowl of soup or water to put in a plastic container. On the truly special occasions it is someone who just needs to talk, someone who just needs to be heard. A lot of the people out here who make their home on the streets or in the corners of abandoned houses are here because of addiction. We could easily write them off as failures or sub-human but the truth is they have lives and stories. Many of them have had great successes that if seen would outshine this time of darkness in their life. Some of them are addicted because they went looking for happiness where the world told them it was and they didn't find it. They had jobs, houses, cars, nice clothing, jewelery, even spouses and children. They still felt empty, mediocre, lost. In there search for a meaningful life they found themselves trying to change there existence through chemical means. Before they could grasp what was happening the chemical became their existence. It is what they live for. Everyday the first thought is "how do I get my next fix, how can I kill the pain, how can I stop myself from feeling physically sick from withdrawal". They find a way to satisfy that hunger. Some support their habit honestly by doing random work for people or taking things they find laying around the city in for scrap money. Others find more dishonest means that can be presumed without mentioning.
The truth is that we all stray onto dead-end paths that imprison us in a state of dependency. Some addictions are easier to hide than others, or more socially acceptable. There are some addictions that are destructive, and yet encouraged by the society, people who don't participate in these addictions are strange and different. Good addictions do exist and they will overtake the bad ones.
Truthfully we are all searching for a sense of fulfillment, we want to be a part of something, we want to feel something powerful. We think that this feeling of fulfillment will come from achieving something for ourselves; reaching some level of knowledge, wisdom, wealth, beauty, fame, or success. True joy can never come from any of these things by them self. If we are blessed with any one of these things true joy will come from freely sharing with others.
LOVE is fulfilling, LOVE is beautiful, LOVE is caring, LOVE forgives, LOVE gives true joy, LOVE gives freely, LOVE overcomes, LOVE is pure, LOVE is addictive.
I pray that we all become hopeless addicts, driven by the deep desire to love each other, becoming slaves to the consuming force that washes over and through us, giving rise to a pure spirit.