Some Thoughts on Our Homeless Community

I have been thinking this week about a few of the basic lessons I have learned about my community and about myself, as I have served the past few months at the Cold Weather Intervention in Milwaukee where I have helped out this past winter. Many lessons have been about me, some have been about how much I grew to love our guests in a short time, and other times I have been just delighted about the missionary servants in my home church.

First, I have consistently found that even though I sleep less than I plan to when I staff the mission at Divine Intervention, I get the best inspirations for meditating and writing during the wee hours of the night in that place.

I also find that I love to listen to, and come to understand, guests, who are much more like me than I expected I would find.

Along those lines, I have discovered that I have agonized over folks who had to leave the community for various reasons. I miss them as much as family. I pray for them like family. I have learned that I know much less about addictions, and particularly about alcoholism, than I thought I knew. I have confirmed though that addictions are as scary as I have thought for decades. I am right to fear my own addictive personality.

I am able to say NO better than I thought. It is still not my favored mode though.

I have more confidence in my ministry than I knew before.

I have learned too that there are named and un-named disciples in my home church who support my missions creatively and lovingly. My friend Val has made it a project to find the supplies we need, and has even thought of things that we needed, when I was too dense to realize it. She thought of air fresheners to add to our supplies; it never occurred to me even when I encountered a few stinky spots. Duh! I just thought that was part of our environment. An anonymous member of our prayer team, who sometimes confuses me with my son John (I think I really should be flattered!), prays for me when I am ill and can’t figure out what to make of it. She also prays and sends me cards to offer up her prayers with those (like some of the guests) whom I have lifted up in prayer. And she sends money to help support the missions! How cool is that.

When I am wondering if there are real disciples in the Church, some come and help me–just because they know what they are called to do. No pressures from me. They just come and help me. Wow–that inspires me!

Truly I heard the gentle brogue tonight,
a soft, genteel, lilt in his voice.
He could sell snow to Eskimo, would sell, and
yet I heard the uncertainty there, the
yearning for his mother’s word-caress.

So alone, he wanted to be loved.
Long ago, as I saw the homeless, there
were no Irish there, and I crossed the
street away.
Somehow I didn’t see Irish there,
but my eyes were welded, and I saw
What I would see.

How many Germans walk in here,
my eyes worn, patched now, but acute?
On the southside of Milwaukee, Germans
camp, and come in from the cold, heads high still,
these blond, grey gods, not wanting to be seen here.
Are there more homeless Germans than when
I was blind?

I saw so clearly when I was blind.
The weld on my eyes kept out the light pollution
and I saw what I would see.
So I came into the Light and
saw what I could see, when I came in,
and saw the sights not so sharp as what
I saw when I was blind.

C Thomas Bolton 12-31-11


About Tom Bolton

I'm a Husband and Dad, an Enterprise Systems Manager at the City of Milwaukee, and a Disciple and Lay Servant at First United Methodist of West Allis. I love working beside young people. As I study the Bible, sometimes I feel moved to work through my understanding by writing poetry. I also am going through a process to discern my calling, and to learn more about Christian Leadership. Sometimes I just feel like writing about something that grabs my attention too.
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