“What keeps you awake at night?”

Dear President Trump,

This morning I went by the Christian Cavalry Church near us. They have a huge sign at the edge of their parking lot; it’s black with bold pastel rainbow letters that say “Sweet Dreams” and smaller white letters that ask “What keeps you awake at night?” I immediately started generating my list; the heat, the dog needing to go out at 3am, waiting for our daughter to get home, worry about the state of the world, worry about our brother-in-law. This is as far as I got before I was close enough to see that someone had scratched into the surface the words “Being Homeless.” The letters are barely visible, but they pulled me up short. I won’t discount the things that keep me awake at night, but absolutely, being homeless will keep someone awake for all sorts of awful reasons and one is not going to have sweet dreams huddled in a doorway.

I wonder how many people who attend that church will see the “Being Homeless” response. Most will probably drive into the parking lot and won’t get close enough to the front of the sign to see these words. Although there is some irony in the message being on a Cavalry sign, it’s not just evangelical Christians who need to be reminded that some people’s situations are so dire that the idea of having sweet dreams is ludicrous. I’d gotten about a block away and was thinking somewhat judgmental thoughts about that church (which I’ve never attended and have no idea what they do for the community, etc.) when I had an instant karma moment and stumbled. I didn’t go down, but it got my attention. It made me look at my hypocrisy since I certainly haven’t done anything lately to make the life of someone who is experiencing homelessness easier. Yes, in the last month I’ve (politely) argued against not-in-my-backyard sentiments that have surfaced over whether low incoming housing and a resource center for homeless people might go in the open space across the street. But have I gone to the neighborhood meetings about it? No. Did I follow through on volunteering at a shelter? No. Do I feel overwhelmed most days? Yes. Is that a valid excuse? Not really. Could I stop writing to you and free up time for direct action? Yes. Do I think doing so would better serve the greater good? I’m honestly not sure.

May everyone have safe places to sleep.
May we be happy to address the needs of those with the least.
May we value everyone’s health.
May we each keep re-evaluating our efforts to support the common good.

Tracy Simpson

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