If you live on the streets, you know to watch your every move. Do not make eye contact if you don’t want trouble and stay away from unlit alleys and streets. That is all common knowledge. What is not obvious is the unity and love of the people behind the barred windows and double-locked doors. There are people behind there, but you would not know, you don’t know the streets.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun peaks its head, the people, they come in droves. To pray, to love, to socialize and to be apart of each others life in a safe environment, if only for a brief time.
My favorite Sunday morning fell on a beautiful sunny day. Doughnuts aligned the stairway up to the galley where people would sit. People hung out at the stairs to greet their neighbors, to check them out. There was no doubt I did not fit in. But that did not matter on Sundays. They had seen me walking around. The word was out that I was a down and out alcoholic who lived in a halfway house. They understood and they would pray for anyone.
The man at the podium sang a few gospel verses and continued to speak his mind about the Lord and his people. We listened intently. God hears people who listen, I am told.
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. We lost one of our own Friday night in a drug deal that went bad. Tommy lost his son. We lost him, too.”
The crowd begins to stand and sit and stand and sit, grumbling, while the faint cries of some of the women can be heard as clearly as the day was still.
“We need to help the Garcia family and give them what we got. The Lord will help them through us. But Tommy…we know you got a family. We know you be feeling real bad. We want to offer you our time and our kitchens so your family can eat in this horrible time. Can I get an Amen?” Tommy’s two year old daughter popped out behind his leg understanding that the pain was immense and releasing little girl tears without knowing what may come next for her family.
“AMEN sweet Tommy, Amen my brother. Amen to you little girl. We need you grow up and get your family out of here someday. You got that?” Declared rounds of people from the street in and out of the makeshift church. The girl nodded. And she knew that they meant it when they said Amen. Tommy knew that the people would sacrifice what little they had to help their brother in need.
No one spoke about finding out who done it. They knew. There were rumors. And you could be sure that killer would see his. That much was clear.
Because no one is safe on the streets. It is just a way of life. Women on causal strolls are hit on as hookers. Kids meet their drug dealers behind the 7/11 or in a newly renovated park from the city. No one was immune to what the streets had to say or what the streets would take that day.
However, on that Sunday, as the sun rose gently into the sky, the people rejoiced in the Lord and thanked him for having mercy on their souls for just another day. Isn’t that what we all got? Just today. Somewhere in those streets this day became a day of love and giving. That is what the streets do on Sunday.