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The Bridge: My Insides Twisted Up 0

Driving by the bridge the other day I felt my insides twist up. So many new families are taking up residence in the nearby park.

This issue is getting a great deal of press lately. The media calls it the “homeless situation”.

The voice in my head was judging what I was seeing. It was almost hissing to me…”How can you support this?” “Look at this mess…” “How can you feed people who live like this and bring their mess to the city?”

As the stoplight turned green and I eased away from the bridge where I spend the first two Wednesdays of the month…I gave myself quite the motivational speech. Allow me to bring you into my thoughts that day…

But before I get ahead of myself, here is the menu for tonight – 5pm

Swedish Meatballs
Macaroni & Cheese
Green Beans

We all have a voice in our head – you know the one, it makes your head snap to attention when danger is present. Well this voice grabbed me by the throat and shook me hard in that moment.

As I was driving away from the bridge with the image of garbage bags full of clothes heaped together on the grass along with their owners…

This is what I heard in my mind.

Jennifer, if you had to move your family out of your home today because all of your money and resources where gone – what would you look like? Would you have a few garbage bags of clothes? Would you have stuff that you didn’t know what to do with? Would you be overwhelmed? Would this be the worst day, week, month, or year of your life?

Would you look like a mess? After a few days of this, would you smell questionable? What if you were hungry…what would you do?

By the time this flurry of questions bombarded my psyche I was a about 3 blocks away from the bridge – the bridge I love. The bridge that brings me more joy than any other “thing” I’ve be apart of in my life. The people who I feed – who I bring my cooking to – these people I love so much…just moments ago, I could feel myself beginning to judge – I was judging the mess I was seeing. Why?

Was it partly because, what I was looking at made me uncomfortable?

Was it because I was ashamed to support something that looked so horrific?

What would people think of me…supporting these people, feeding these people who brought this mess to our public parks and expected us to help them – to do something…anything. What would people think of me personally?

As I waited in traffic, my face hot, my eyes stinging with tears…I thought to myself…Jennifer, how dare you judge someone on their worst day.

If I was forced to move my family out of my house, and I found myself in a park with no where else to go and no way to feed my kids, I would feel so grateful for a meal and someone who genuinely cared enough NOT to JUDGE.

–When they come out of the woodwork for a meal and disappear again…most people think it is noble to feed the poor. When the numbers increase and the homeless ooze out of the woodwork and into our daily lives – people want to discuss and debate the appropriate way to deal with this issue.

I believe it is always noble to give a meal to someone who is hungry.

And while everyone is discussing and debating, we will be taking action and feeding those hungry bellies tonight at 5pm under the Marion St. bridge.

To all my volunteers, thank you and I love you.

Jennifer Montgomery

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