I am so devoted to nature and Trinity River Trails are one of Fort Worth’s most beautiful “free” entertainment attractions. I have my favorite spot that gives me the perfect view of the river and the trees provide me with the perfect balance of sun and shade. I believe the Creator arranged this spot at the river just for me. On this particular morning though, I wanted to see the sunrise. I got my lil stuff together, my book, my water and put on my walking gear. I got to the park and I started towards my spot and I spotted the young lady I saw the evening before. She was on that same bench but this time she was parting her hair as if she was getting ready for the day. I thought to myself, “she slept here”. I figured I would stop and start a conversation; because I have real questions about why so many people are “choosing” to live on the street. She was like the 140th person I saw the day before sleeping on the ground or in a tent. I work Downtown Fort Worth, so this day I happen to take Lancaster and this street is literally lined with sleeping bags and tents. I just looked and stared in awe of the laughter, mixed with despair; some of them just appeared to be so content. Then there were a few that I could tell were begging for drugs. I went to bed this evening with questions and fears of how this could be me. But, this morning I learned differently. We can have the most phenomenal, most authentic and faith filled relationship with God; but if we choose to live homeless, high, drunk or lost; that is just what it is “our choice”.
Again, I was curious and I needed to get an understanding first hand. So I stopped and introduced myself to Shaunte was her name. I had my McDonalds coffee and I didn’t want to be rude; so I offered her breakfast. I went and got her breakfast and she specified, no coffee; orange juice. Probably because she was parched from sleeping on the bench all night and waking up to a hot Texas morning. When I got back, she didn’t start on her biscuit right a way; but she did that orange juice. She actually tucked the hash browns and biscuit in her soiled Michael Kors bag. Shaunte had the bench lined with books and the Bible and my series questions started with: “Are you homeless?” “How did you end up here?” Her answer “ I was working for a temp agency and lost my job as a dishwasher”. I asked her if she had family and guess what she said? Shaunte said “she has children with apartments but she just doesn’t want to be a burden”. Say no more Shaunte has chosen the park bench over a nice cool apartment. She also said she hates the idea of telling adult children how to live their life. I could definitely relate to her on that one, I’m sure most of us can. Although I left still questioning her choice, what I learned most from this whole encounter is that, we can have so many intangible things in common leaving us with the tangible things to covet and compete over and some people strongly believing that they have to have “things” to be happy. No judgement; because sometimes I have to be reminded.
I asked Shaunte what she wanted from God; and I guess I really wanted to believe that she would say “a home”. But, she really could not answer the question. I want to believe that God gives houses; but I believe he gives spiritual gifts. We choose to go to work to keep shelter over our head; homeless people choose not to work but they still have shelter. It may be in tent, bridge or bench form in Shaunte’s case; but she still has faith, joy, peace and she believes in the love of God even without the things. She believes that God loves her and oooooweeeee that is more than the riches or wealth in this world.