The Metz family just returned back from 10 days in Florida. It’s the longest I think I’ve ever been away from home at once. It was our first vacation in quite some time and was an amazing time. We all flew to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for $180 – not going to beat that with a stick (thank you Skybus.) We stayed with our friends the Bergmans (thanks to you guys for putting up with us and our kids for a week) from last Tuesday night until this past Sunday night in Miami. We then drove to Key West and spent two nights in the Southern Most city at the Southernmost Hotel. It was a great time and we are very refreshed . . . though I am kind of dragging today after getting into bed at 1:30 this morning and not working for a week and a half. Whew . . . refreshed mentally and emotionally but not physically, I totally understand why people would bring a babysitter on a vacation! We got to do a lot of cool stuff and see a lot of cool things, but the weather was probably most memorable (especially in light of the ice storm looming west of us). Since I am slowly getting back into things, thought that I would offer a quick post here today.
I think the best part of the trip for me (in addition to the warm weather) was watching the sun set in Key West. That was really one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. We’ll be sure to update the photoblog with pictures from there soon. It really was incredible. We didn’t get quite as much beach time as we had hoped. Both days that we tackled the beach in Miami were cold and really windy. We did get a nice day in at Key West’s Southernmost beach. Even was graced to see a topless senior citizen . . . that was worth the price of the flight.
I did get a quick book read I thought I would post a few words about.
Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski.
Mike Yankoski tells an interesting autobiographical tale of his four-month journey living as a homeless man. What’s especially interesting about this story is what prompts this “experiment.” Mike was moved by his vigorous college-age faith to challenge his convictions. “I sat there in church struggling to remember a time when I’d actually needed to lean fully on Christ rather than on my own abilities. Not much acme to mind.” So . . . to help him answer questions about his faith, Yankoski sets out on a four-month journey to live homeless on the streets of six of America’s largest cities accompanied by his traveling partner, Sam.
The stories from the streets are enlightening and honest. From the beginning of their experience in Denver at a drug rehabilitation house (he participated in this program as help acclimate him to the culture of homelessness rather than be dropped off on the street somewhere) Sam and Mike spend their time interacting with men who eat out of garbage cans, sleep under overpasses, and spend their time begging for food. Sam and Mike spend their time on the street playing worship music on their guitars with an open case out for money. They would often play for an entire day to earn enough money for a couple of 99 cent hamburgers for dinner. Their trips took them to soup kitchens, shelters, and churches, but mostly they slept on the streets.
While Yankoski’s experience wasn’t extensive enough to provide an “insiders” look at life on the street, they stayed long enough to provide snippets of what living homeless is like. It didn’t take them long to realize the considerable problem that mental illness plays in the live of homeless men, as they frequently meet afflicted people. They develop an interesting mix of empathy for them men living beside them on the streets, and also frustration and despair for the plight of the addictions and numbing agents used on the streets. After but a few months spent on the streets Yankoski could already understand why so many turn that direction.
The book offers a quick glimpse at some of the realities of the street: drugs and alcohol, systematic failures by church and government, Christian apathy for the homeless, and the great extent and complexity of the issue.
I also found a helpful insight at just how influenced we are by our experience. Here, in a short term experience of faith, the lives of these two man are forever changed by the things they saw and experienced. This was brought to light to Yankoski as he meets a Christan devoted to helping the plight of the poor who the entire homeless community acknowledges as a man of God . . . subsequently take a long drag from a joint. From Yankoski’s pen,
“Sitting there with Sugar Man, I felt my carefully established definitions of a Christian crack and expand. Here was an admitted addict and user openly proclaiming Christ in his community and asking how he could serve us.” p. 106
For anyone interested, this book is an interesting look at the topic of homelessness and will forever change the way you look at the beggar at the street corner.