Sunday, March 4, 2012


Once a week we have a Day of Reflection. Each person in the community takes a turn planning this retreat day with a theme, reflection questions, scripture and a bit of input. This past week, Chris offered us a unique opportunity. Below is what she gave us Thursday night. We encourage you to think through the proposed questions and possibly even embark on the journey. Some of our experiences will be posted later this week.

"You have been issued an eviction notice for failure to pay your rent for the last 3 months.  By 10am tomorrow morning, police will be at your door, and your landlord will begin to nail the doors and windows to your home shut.  Tonight is the last night you can sleep in your bed.  You are aware of only one shelter close enough for you to walk, but their doors don’t open until 3:00pm.  It is located at 4928 Washington Avenue. 

In this shelter, there are no lockers, and about 30 bunkbeds in one room for women.  You are expected to be out by 8am the next day, and there is no guarantee there will be a bed available each night.  You have $20 in your pocket, and your SSI (supplemental security income) will not be automatically deposited to your checking account for 3 more weeks.

You know no one in the area who will offer space for you to stay.  You have been through this before, and have overstayed many-a-welcome and have not been able to reimburse your friends for the time they once gave you to stay.  As a result, they have told you not to return.

For the next 17 hours, reflect on the experience of receiving an impersonal note stating simply, “You are being evicted from your home.  You have 24 hours to remove your belongings.  All items that are left will become the property of your landlord.  If you are able to pay your outstanding balance within 72 hours, you will be allowed to return.”

Discern what is most important for you to take on your journey, keeping in mind the miles you will have to walk, and the insecurity of the shelter where you will hopefully stay.  Please pack these items, and take them with you for the day, from 10am (eviction takes effect) until 3:00pm (when the “shelter” opens).  What is most important to you, and why?  Keep in mind you have $20 cash which is to last you 3 weeks.

As you journey through your day, ask yourself the following questions:

     1. How did I perceive people looking at me?
     2. How did I feel as I walked?  Stopped for lunch? 
     3. What were my feelings as I closed the door one last time?
     4. What did I take with me?  After I left, as the day went on, did I wish I had something I chose to leave behind?

When you return, what is the first thing that you do?  Why was this “first thing” so important to you?

Reflect on one of the following readings, or on one God may have put in your heart as your day went along.  When we come together at 4pm, if you feel called to, share why this reading meant something to you, and how you may have read this reading differently based on your experience.

Matthew 26:6-13- Jesus anointed at Bethany
John 6:1-15- Jesus feeds the five thousand
1 Kings 17:7-16- The widow at Zarephath
Luke 16: 19-31- The rich man and Lazarus
Matthew 9:20-21- The hemorrhaging woman

1 comment:

  1. I realize we promised to share some of the insights gained from that Day of Reflection and have not yet done that.
    When we returned to the house after our experience each one of us talked about how powerful the day was. We appeciated the comfort and warmth of the public library to sit, go to the restroom and use the computers. We also found the hospitals to offer public restrooms. We talked about how much our boodies hurt from carrying our belongings with us for the day and were greatful that we could return to a bottle of ibuprofen and hot bath.
    Some were hesitant to enter stores because of how they would be perceived. Each of us wanted to offer food and assistance to other people we assumed were homeless but didn't want to insult them through this assumption.
    Overall, we acknowledged that we could not truly understand what it means to be evicted through our one day of experience and also the safety net we have through being in community. We also are aware that even though we were traveling through the day with a backpack or suitcase we were still treated much better and given more benefit of the doubt than many people who are homeless because of the color of our skin.
    It was a day we will not soon forget.