Two families turned out to the streets.
A father seated
his head in his lap
children crawling around his legs
one leaning into his shoulder
Is she crying?
Slowly his story tumbles out
A family down on their luck
The car that was to take them to a new job, a new life, broken beyond repair
No shelter with space for all of them
Children at sixes and sevens not knowing what to do
They ‘re staying with their mother in a shelter
He shares a room with his crack-smoking brother
Hardly a place for a family with kids.
He wonders what to do
“This is no life for kids,” he says.
“Maybe it’s time we give them up,” he wonders to himself.
The question lingers in the stale shelter air.
“No room. No room,” they hear when they knock on the door.
“No room for you or the baby you are carrying.”
They are turned away
away into the cold night air.
Labor pains come heavy now and still no place to stay.
“The manger? That’s all there is?” we hear them say.
“So be it. The baby’s begging to be born.”
On any given night, over two thousand people in Albuquerque are turned out to the streets. Some find a bed in one of the few overnight shelters. Some surf on couches. Many sleep on the street or under a bridge or in a culvert. Few get the rest they need. Even those in shelters are turned out early in the morning. Turned out to walk the streets in search of a place to sit and catch a wink of sleep. Like Jesus they have no place to lay their head. Like Jesus they show the face of God to one another and to us.
We pray, O Holy One, you come to us, a person of the streets, a baby born in a manger, a baby born to parents turned out to the cold. You travel from town to town, but you have no place to lay your head, you have no place to call your own. You know the weary road the we walk. You’ve walked it too. You know the load we carry every day. You’ve carried such a load yourself. Grant us the courage to walk the road you walk. A road that can end at the Cross. Open our eyes, open our hearts to see you in those we meet on the way. Tune our ears to hear calls for justice and cries for help that we might lift our voices in one accord with yours as we pray for your reign to begin now in our hearts, in our streets, in our churches, in our homes, in our schools and in our halls of justice. Amen