Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness. Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream. I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.
Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.” Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.
|1.||Fear of the unknown. See From my diary: Learning to pray.|
|2.||Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am. Details here.|
|3.||Times of despair. I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen. Details here.|
|4.||Incidents of utter selfishness. Details here.|
Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Wednesday 06/26/13 I met my principal patron, hoping to pick up the second half of my allowance for the week. He could only give me 2/3 of the amount. With two minutes left on my phone, and no more cash expected till next week, I e-mailed a supporter in Texas and invited an early birthday present in the form of his putting minutes on my phone. I had to buy a soda at a corner store to get change for bus fare “home.” At the shelter, having my last smokes before going in, I began to figure.
Certainly I could not buy more than one more pack of smokes — to last four days. For certain, I will wind up using the nicotine gum Pastor worked so hard to help me get last fall. I would have to give up sodas. I might have to give up coffee in the afternoons. I might have to give up coffee in the mornings — and sit outside from 6 am to 10 am with nothing to drink and no access to a bathroom. I might have to stay one night at a different shelter. I might have to walk rather than take the bus to church Sunday.
Enigmatically, when I got inside and sat down on my bunk, I felt cheerful. The last thing in the world I want is to be on the bus stop Sunday and find myself without bus fare to church. This minimal amount of self-management, of stewardship, of planning what sacrifices I must make, gave me a degree of power and control over my lot.