Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’

homeless presence

September 21, 2010

“Sha’up.”

She says this several times, to other children, to adults to might stop to talk with her.

“Sha’up.”

She is all of two years old. I know this because I have overheard the conversation her mother is having with one of the staff of the homeless shelter. I am at this homeless shelter as a part of my service learning commitment for my degree in pastoral counseling and spiritual care at Loyola University.

Service learning is not just volunteering to “do good” for others so that we feel good about ourselves. Service learning is just that: learning about service to others. These families who are homeless are going to teach me an awful lot over the next 10 to 12 weeks about my limits and boundaries, my capacities and abilities.

Meanwhile, I am listening to this child and realizing that she says “Sha’up” when anyone begins telling her something she does not want to hear or if she wants to be talking.

Shut up.

This is a homeless shelter for families. It is just a temporary place with a strictly ruled game-plan to get these people self-sufficient and into housing of their own. This two-year-old little darling of a girl who has learned to say “shut up” hasn’t a clue that there might be a different way to live. It is the hope of the staff who work at the shelter that she will learn.

It is not for me to question why any of these families became homeless, but I want to hear their stories. How I respond to this environment and the people who live here is going to introduce me to my prejudices, my projections, my illusions, and my realities . . . but only if I pay close attention and am willing to learn.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass