Soon after I woke up this morning I had a weird experience.
I had dreamed of a less fortunate man I had breakfast with in British Columbia couple years ago who told me something I’ve never forgotten.
“Being homeless ain’t about not having four walls, or not having stuff or an address,” he’d said. “It’s about not being from somewhere’s.”
He went on to explain, gesturing with his hand, that me and the other people around him sitting there in that restaurant, well, we all were from somewhere’s.
“You all carry that somewhere’s that you’re from inside of you. It’s part of who you are.”
He paused, making sure that I was understanding him and looked directly at me with his pale blue eyes.
“You?” he said, nodding his chin in my direction. “You’re not just you sitting there across the table from me. You’re a person with a place – a fire. It’s part of your identity and it protects you. Me? I don’t have that fire. So, being homeless is the same thing as being empty.”
Suddenly, in my mind’s eyes I saw streams of refugees, they’d all left their homes – or worse yet, their homes had been blown out from under them in war torn situations.
I saw people, right here in my own country whose homes had been flooded, the water taking everything away with it.
I even saw my Mother on that great ship of refugees that had landed in Indonesia years ago. She and entire generations like her had left their homes in Vietnam not really knowing where their new homes in Canada were going to be or whether in fact they would have one.
I saw a world full of dazed and confused people going far back into history. Without their homes, they are lost as if they too had just awakened from a bad dream.
As I got up and started my day, I was even more convinced than ever that we humans really are all connected in our experiences.
While my situation doesn’t even begin to compare in intensity or in need with that of so many others’ experiences, in some small way it still helps me to understand all the more keenly what it’s like when the changes and tragedies of life steal our fires and leave us homeless.