Leading us home: the experience of walking alongside the homeless
By Phil Brennan, Romero Institute, Waterford
The Church needs to re-discover its prophetic voice and speak its truth without equivocation or compromise. A Church that stands adrift from the afflictions of its people and somewhat muted in the face of injustice is complicit in imprisoning those it claims to serve within an endless spiral of deprivation and hardship. A Church that stands in solidarity with its people will soon discover the source of its liberation. It is then we become attuned to a new frequency and begin to dance to a new rhythm.
One of the hardest things of being homeless was the attitudes of other people towards me. I know what people think of me. They think I should sort myself out, get a grip, stop being a scrounger. The thing is no one could ever think any worse of me than I think of myself. I am fighting it now though with the help of amazing people who have come into my life. They see worth in me and I start to believe as if for the very first time.
If I vanished in the morning, I’m not even sure if I’d be missed. This is the raw, painful vulnerable me that I have to live with everyday. Finding a room in many ways is the easy bit. Finding me and being happy being me – that’s the challenge.
I never thought it would happen to me: homelessness. It’s something that happens to men; older men maybe – people with beards and alcohol problems. But as I sit here and share my story, I can honestly say I am a different person. The person I was always meant to be. I discovered that I wasn’t dependent on substances, and I didn’t need to be abused. I didn’t need the approval of others. Why? Because I approve of myself. Simple.