At 7:30 am this morning, my neighbor found me, soaked in sweat, in clothes that looked (and had been) slept in, sitting up against a wall, a backpack full of my belongings by my side. "Are you all right?" "I'm fine, except.." I had to admit I was locked out.
I'd walked to the church last night, to be an overnight host for an interfaith network that houses homeless families. My parish is hosting this week. A breviary, toothbrush and novel were all I had in my pack. Four boys, two mothers were staying, striving for some primacy. The oldest of the boys was the same age as my youngest, and I wondered how hard it must be to be uprooted from friends.
I spent the night on an air mattress in an un-air conditioned classroom, a fan sieving tiny sparkles of coolness from the air and sending them cart wheeling in my direction. As I sat cross-legged on the mattress to make my Examen, the bed wobbled underneath, sending me diving for my breviary and promptly tumbling my rosary and pen onto the floor. I wondered if I would have the equanimity of the women across the hall if everything under me was as uncertain as my bed.
I saw them onto the van at 6:30 this morning, helping to marshal the last of the boys into the back. In the process I managed to lock myself out of the school. I left the keys in the back sacristy and walked home. Halfway there, I realized I had no keys, and I was locked out of the house, too. No one was awake at home to let me in. So much for the cup of tea I wanted, or the shower…or any thought of making it to morning Mass.
I still don't know what it's like to be homeless, but this morning keys were handed me for more than doors.