by: Steven Bouma-Prediger
The woman took her place in line with the others. Her dark hair, penetrating and luminous eyes, and richly colored and wrinkled skin caused me to double-take as she made her way among the guests at the shelter. With her son she sauntered up to the counter for the evening supper.
That night we served a meager meal of spuds and rice, with whole milk thick as cow’s cream. To them it was a feast. Them—“street people” to some, “bums” to many, “guests” to those of us who worked in this homeless shelter in Los Angeles. The woman ate her share. The son ate more than his, along with his mother’s angry words.
After supper, to the mixed rhythm of chirps and snores, those with their homes on their backs or in their bags—Isodore, her son, and 18 others—bedded down in comfort, shelter-style. They slept well, weary from yet another day on the street.
The biblical story tells us that the humans God lovingly created succumb to temptation. The human “earth-creatures” (adam from the adamah) animated by God’s Spirit refuse to trust in God their maker. The consequences are monumental. Because of their disobedience, the man and the woman become alienated from God, from each other, and from the earth. Furthermore, they are expelled from the garden. They are, in short, rendered homeless.