"Good morning." I replied.
"Where are you headed?"
"Home." I said.
"Home!" He said with great emphasis as he spread his hands out before himself.
There on the ground between us lay 3 clear garbage bags and two folding lounge chairs.
"This is my home."
(Prior to meeting this young man, I had been out walking for almost two hours, trying to get an errand done. My mood was none-the-less unpleasant.)
His words received my full attention. I turned to face him squarely and listen to his story.
"As you can see I am homeless."
"Yes. I was there myself some time ago."
"My name is Smoky."
"Hello Smoky. My name is Darryl."
Smoky, details his life from the previous seven years. Because of the subject matter and those involved, I will not repeat portions of his story. However, I will tell you, I walked away weeping.
"I'm from this area (northeast Pennsylvania). I have family here. My mother stays right over there. So I am not totally alone."
"So why not stay with your family?"
"Truthfully I can. IF I wanted to. But I don't. My mother has done so much for me these past few years and I do not want to burden her."
Smoky's honesty is refreshing. Usually when I talk to someone homeless I get a laundry list of wrongs against them, perpetrated by family members. Smoky however lays the blame at his own feet.
I can see him getting antsy, so I tell him a short form version of my story.
"I myself was homeless for two years. I slept in abandoned buildings, on park benches, wherever I could find a place to lay my head. Or was allowed to."
Smoky looks at me and shakes his head.
"Yes, for two years."
"How did you do it? It's only been a couple of months for me."
"The grace of God and much prayer."
"I pray and it does help."
"The situation was not easy but God helped me get through it and now I am doing good."
"I know I am going to get through this, because I have a plan. The uncertainty is difficult to deal with. But I trust God."
At this point another gentleman joins us and he suspiciously looks at me as Smoky and I finish our conversation. He too is homeless.
"The hardest part is there are no places for the homeless people to goto. There are no shelters, or housing or anything. We are on our own."
How well do I know it. People see the homeless and assume the worst. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. Whatever their mind conjurs us must be the reason for their current predicament. Not always true. Economic reasons like loss of a job, downturn in the housing market, unforseen medical emergency, death of a loved one, etc. The list goes on and on.
Before departing I pray and we encourage one another.
As I stand on the corner waiting for traffic to pass by I think to myself "How did I make it?"
Easy answer. The faithfulness of a God whom I never really knew in that dark season in my life.
God says in His word "I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am with you always."
Promises. Promises. Promises.
Until I rededicated my life to God and began to read His word, those promises were unknown to me.
Yet, through it all He remained by my side.
A million what-if's can pass in my mind but there is never a doubt God will always be ther for me.
Seasons come and seasons go. But God never changes.