God blest

By Haven Lindsey  in  blog  on  06.20.2015

Driving the familiar road home from the horse farm recently, I was listening to Guy Clark sing about the plight of people who are homeless. In typical Guy Clark fashion, the famed song-writer, story-teller expressed a simple message and thought-provoking questions…”When did this start making sense?”…”Don’t give ‘em no money, they just spend it on beer, homeless, get away from here”. As I approached a traffic light I saw a man sitting in a wheelchair in the median holding a cardboard side just like the one Clark described as he softly sang his lyrics. His voice, despite being played on a CD in my car, conveyed more than compassion…it imparted sadness and disappointment. The man’s sign, written in black marker read, ‘please help, homeless, veteran, god blest’.

God blest.  Sign

As I listened to Clark’s lyrics, I caught eyes with the man who had only one leg holding the sign and I wondered about his story. Perhaps he joined the military at an early age with very little education and even fewer options. Perhaps he served his country and had his leg blown off in the process. And perhaps he came home to a future of marginalized prospects, marginalized care and a marginalized life.

When I was a kid a teacher of mine was in the hospital. I don’t remember why she was in the hospital, I don’t even remember the teacher although I remember my mother commenting over the years about my choice of words to her in a card I have no memory of writing: “How did this happen?”.

Apparently I’ve not evolved much beyond that childhood innocence. I see the homeless veteran sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of the road and I read about a man so full of hatred for people whose skin color doesn’t match his own that he walks into a church and kills nine people and I hear defensive politicians more concerned about their rights to have a gun rather than their concern for the lives lost and I look around and see people who are disengaged and uncommunicative yet checking their phones for messages and Facebook posts as if in an operant conditioning rubric, and I wonder, “How did this happen?”.

Our society encourages people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps but not everyone happens to have a pair of boots. And then what? What happens to the proverbial bootless? What about the veteran with one leg who comes home to nothing and falls prey to the brain disease of addiction? What about the kid who is so disconnected that his anger turns into hatred and he lashes out by killing people? What about the divisiveness in our country, the stereo-typing and labeling of those who look different or come from a different culture, the choosing of sides with little compassion for others while being mired in the self-absorbed tenets of anxiety and fear? When did we become so afraid? How did this happen?

As I continued my drive home listening to Guy Clark, toward the end of the song he sang, “When the final line unfolds it don’t always rhyme.”

Yes sir, you got that right Mr. Clark. Right now, ain’t nothin’ really rhyming. We’ve got a lot of fixing to do.

God blest.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven