Whose world is real: Theirs or ours?

homeless_camp

Buckaroo (not his real name) and I are engaged in a conversation about the government. It’s getting heated, not because we’re in opposition but because the subject gets him riled up.

I’m getting uncomfortable, thinking I best change the subject to something less volatile.

But then he says something that shakes me.

If the world as we know it ever comes to a halt, whether it be by our own government (Buckaroo’s presumption) or by outside forces, he says he knows who the survivors will be: his kind.

His people—the homeless—know how to survive.

I believe him. They prove it every day.

They are survivors. How else could they live day after day with the substandard food they eat, the poor sanitation they have, the diabetes and cancer and alcoholism and drug addictions and mental illnesses that many endure?

Some do die, of course. Many do die. And eventually all die, as we do.

But many live. And live long. They’re survivors.

Sometimes I’m not sure whose world is the real one: theirs or ours.

My world feels comfortably real on my smooth drive on the Parkway overpass, singing worship tunes from my USB stick, bottled water in my cup holder, a packed purse by my side.

But underneath that same overpass is their world, a different world. It houses tents, a fire for cooking and warming, and people with few possessions.

Their world feels brutally real as I stand among them Saturday morning and chat with Buckaroo.

After we drive back to our church building, back into the world as I know it, I close ranks with those like me and we hold hands and Norm words a prayer from all of us, for all of them—the survivors. Thanking God for the lessons those survivors teach us. If they can keep going on, so can we. 

I want Buckaroo and his friends—now my friends, too—on my side not if, but when, the worlds we both know ever come to an end.

Because they will come to an end.

So for now, I’ll take another step into Buckaroo’s world and pray it makes mine a little less plastic and a lot more authentic. That it makes his a little less lonely and a lot more loved.

That it blends both our worlds, making them less about us and more about God. After all, only God’s world is truly real, the only one that will last forever.

I want us both to be survivors in that one.

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