My heart broke as I positioned myself to take his picture. He had his cap in his hand and his head was bowed as I slowly took one picture after another. At first it looked like he was praying, but as I got closer, I could see the fatigue and could sense the loneliness that he was feeling. I pressed the last few dollars I had into his worn, wrinkled hands and he gave me a nod of thanks. I wanted to do more but knew that whatever I tried, it just wouldn’t be enough.
Day after day, year after year he gets up from his bed of cement and scrounges in a garbage can for breakfast. He then shuffles along, mile after mile, around the city of Orlando. He might stop by the library to get out of the intense heat or bitter cold. He might step into a blue box, take out his sign and beg citizens of our community for spare change. He then ends up back where he started, hoping no one will take him to jail or rob him. His eyes close on another day of this unending cycle.
The full definition online casino of loneliness is: “being without friends or company, cut off from others, sad from being alone and a feeling of bleakness or desolation”. I’ve had these feelings at certain points in my life. Starting a new school after my family and I moved hundreds of miles away and later in life, going through a divorce, which was the loneliest time in my life. I just can’t imagine feeling like this, year after year after year.
Being a part of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, I have interviewed many of the homeless on our streets and am awestruck at how long most of them have been out there…lonely, depressed and hurting.
Now, I know, that there are some people reading this that have these same feelings. You are lonely. You’ve lost a spouse or loved one or maybe you have a difficult time making new friends. Maybe your family has shunned you or you have gone through a divorce. I want to encourage you not to give up. There are so many friendly and giving people in our community. People who will reach out their hand to you and lift you up from the place you are in. You will find them at work or at church or at a sporting event. They will smile at you and tell you that it will be ok. My dad gave me some great advice when I went through a difficult time in my life. He said, “When life knocks you down, get up, dust yourself off and keep going. Don’t give up.”
The homeless man whose picture I took has given up. He has resigned himself to the fact that he will never have friends. He will never sit around a table with his family. He will never attend a movie or sporting event. He will never have a job. He will never have a home. He will always be lonely.
It’s going to take all of us to reach out, take his hand and lift him out of the lonely, depressed state that he is in. Are you ready to be a friend to the friendless? Are you ready to make a difference? I know I am.