Last night I woke up at 2:30 and again at 4:30. I was thinking about a young man I had seen earlier that evening on the street. My team-mates and I first noticed this man about a week ago. He was sitting on a stool in the back alley for probably at least 2 hours. His head was down and he was staring off at nothing. It was a little chilly this day too, and he was holding his shoulders tightly. One of my team-mates bought him a milk tea; he drank it eagerly.
After seeing him last week, we were all wondering what had happened to this man to make him this way. On that particular day, he looked like a fairly normal student but just really out of it. My team-mate explained it clearly; he looked as though something traumatic had happened that just completely overwhelmed him and made him shut down. At that point, he seemed in the early stages of a mental disorder…his clothes were still fairly new and clean and he looked as though he had recently groomed.
Yesterday, nearly a week later, I saw him again. He was eating a bowl of noodles that someone had given him. He was also talking loudly to nobody in the street. He was still in the same clothes he had been wearing last week. By this time, he’s starting to look deeper and deeper within whatever disease is consuming him. His shoulders slump pretty far forward as does his head. I wonder what happened to this young man. I wonder if his parents and family will ever find out what has happened to their son or if they’ll go looking for him when he doesn’t come home for summer or holidays. I wonder how often things like this happen. I feel disturbed; it’s no wonder that last night when I woke up thinking about this young man, I felt convicted and hungry.
I also wonder how long it will take for this young man to become like the other homeless and mentally challenged people that live on our street. At most there are two at any given time. They are not beggars; they are not aware enough to be beggars; they are in their own world. Their clothes and hair are all one color…a sooty grey from what looks like years of not being washed. Usually they’re talking to themselves or looking through the trash that piles up on the street. I feel helpless, and I ashamedly I also feel scared of these homeless people. The men are sometimes indecently dressed and they usually have a crazy look in their eyes. And yet, why should I be afraid? Shame on me when I turn away out of discomfort and fear. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” By the society’s standards, these people are considered the “least.” May He help me follow through with what the conviction that’s slowly burning within me.