How did you end up Homeless?

Two contrasting stories in the news today reminded me to check back on the joint churches Advent Calendar "No Place Like Home" helping us to reflect on the issue of homelessness...
The first is the tragic tale of Patricia Taylor who ended up homeless after a marriage breakdown and cancer... She describes herself as "Fifty-two, homeless, hairless". This and other stories form the substance of a Panorama documentary on BBC1 tonight.
The second is a hoary old tale of a government minister claiming £90,000 expenses for a second home which her parents lived in... made worse by alleged threats by one of her advisors and a Government spin doctor, that because the minister in question is responsible for the implementation (or not) of the Leveson recommendations on press freedom, the investigating paper should back off...
The juxtaposition of these stories of the "haves" and the "have nots", or the "haves" and the "been had" prompted me to write this short reflection (I'm hesitant to call it a poem):

How did you end up homeless?

Did your parents throw you out
when they found out you were pregnant?
Did government policy mean you had to move back home
But none of your family were prepared to take you in?
Did you not have the money for the humblest of hotel rooms
Or were all the hostels and B&Bs full because
The powers that be wanted those who had least
To give them the little they had left?
Were you fleeing a tyrannical regime
And have to live among strangers in a strange land?

How did you end up homeless?

Did your relationship break up
Or your health break down?
Did your rainy day become a rainy month?
Did your ship, or your horse not come in?
Were you living beyond your means
Or were you struggling to find life’s meaning?
Did the payday loan company lend you money
Without a payday in sight?
Did the bank give you a mortgage
It will take three lifetimes (and two wages) to repay?

How did you end up homeless?

Did you have to bring another life into the world
When you don’t even have somewhere to live?
Can you not do something to help yourself
Or are you waiting for some wealthy benefactors
To come to your aid with extravagant gifts?
Why don’t you get off your ass, and on your donkey
Or your bike, and go and look for work?
Why don’t you go back where you belong?
What kind of a start is this for a child?
With a start like that he’s headed for a sticky end…


God says through Isaiah:
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,and bring the homeless poor into your house?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard." 

from Isaiah 58:6-8

Shalom

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