Homeless in Seattle...

" The birds of the air have nests... but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". " Go out into the streets and invite the lame, the blind, the cripple, the homeless, the poor..." - the wandering Jesus

Seattle is a thriving American city in many ways. Banking institutions, competing businesses, excellent universities, new technologies, beautiful buildings, fine restaurants, creative music and art enterprises, shops and stores on every corner and of course - really good coffee. Take a walk down 3rd street toward downtown or just walk around the farmer's market near the water and you'll see another reality that helps to define Seattle. Here you will see hundreds of people who are living on the streets much of the time.
" Can you spare some change?" " I haven't eaten in a while."
" Care to buy some batteries. I could use the money."
" I don't mean to bother you, but I need some money for bus fare." As people approach you on the street these are just a few of the things that you'll hear from men and women of all ages and races - faces looking for a generous response.

Today I was struck by the contrast... Around the area known as the Farmers Market down by the water there is a whirl of people walking in and out of shops buying foods, crafts, books, clothing, and all sorts of things . Sitting on the ground or on a bench or lying on the grass sleeping are another group of people. These are not the buyers. These people are without the means to buy the food, the crafts, the books, the coffee, etc... They do something else. They gather. Occasionally you see a person gathering items or food from a rubbish bin or perhaps things left on the ground. They also gather the things they do possess and move from one spot to another.

" Don't over stuff yourself." " I love that shawl." " Table for two, please." " Isn't this lovely?" A different language is heard from those with the means to buy. Between these two groups of people there is very little interaction and very little eye contact and hardly ever any physical contact. In fact it would appear at times that the buyers and takers don't even see the gatherers.

The gatherers however keep the takers in plain view and will approach when necessary.

All of this reminds me of a very important little book about the development of the world as we know it. The book is called " Ishmael". The author is Daniel Quinn. In this book the story of the world is told from the perspective of a gorilla named Ishmael. Ishmael is the teacher who attempts, successfully at times, to teach a human being about the history of the world as it has been played out by two groups of creatures: the takers and the gatherers. The takers take more than they need while the gatherers leave what they don't need . Good reading.

On the streets of Seattle with the Takers and the Gatherers,
Stefan Andre

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


We are missing you in Memphis....sigh

The Spirit is busy calling us to look at the poverty around us and within us. I recently had to do an assignment for the school of servant leadership, a money autobiography, which caused me to recall my roots in deep poverty and the violence included with all that is daily gathering. I feel a pull to return to that and am sorely fighting it, not trusting that I could return to it and remain nonviolent. double sigh

Know that the music and words of 'Holy Spirit come to my aid' have been a real comfort. Blessings on your walk. Shalom, Barbara