Is There An Answer to the Dilemma of Lawrence?

Dear and kind-hearted readers, what is the solution to chronic homelessness in America? Wow, Mother Goose, that’s pretty huge for this early in the morning. Can you tone it down a bit?


Our friend, Lawrence Little, returned to our home on Monday which is the day after Sunday which is the day that we brought Lawrence to church with us. He sat at our kitchen table and drank a large mug of hot chocolate with Husband Goose. (Mother Goose was not present for this meeting as she occasionally works at a part-time job…) Recounting the previous day with our church pastor, Chuck Colegrove, Lawrence said that indeed the pastor did take him into the city to The Safe Haven Foundation, but there is a two-week waiting list to be allowed into their program.

Mother Goose is indeed grateful for all of the help that our church has shown Lawrence in the past eighteen months. Here is an excerpt from my pastor’s email describing just some of the care they have provided to our friend:

We have helped Lawrence on several occasions since first meeting him back in the Fall of 2012. We paid for 1 month of housing while he was seeking a job, paid for bus passes on 4-5 occasions that he secured a job or was about to secure a job….you’re right, helping with money isn’t necessarily the best option….when we’re able to, we help.

I’m hoping that Safe Haven will get him on the right path. He’s had several opportunities in the last year with jobs but can’t seem to hold it down.

Chuck has also offered to write a referral for Lawrence if he needs something like that to speed up the housing process at Safe Haven. Thank you, Chuck, for all you do to bring joy and love to a dark and fearful world.

I may have mentioned that Lawrence does his “rounds” through the city — knocking on the doors of kindly people who have helped him in the past. Husband Goose described him as having a “rolodex of helpers” in his head, and I believe that is an accurate picture of how he survives. One day at a time, one handout at a time, one bit of help from his friends is enough to get him to the next day.

Obviously many people have shown him love and kindness. Many people have directed him to job opportunities and housing opportunities. I am sure that somewhere in this large city he has at least one case manager who has filled out the proper intake forms and has done everything to get him into the system of public care. He has had money in the past — according to his story, he used to have a LOT OF MONEY in the days when he was a street performer doing break dancing on a cardboard mat on Michigan Avenue…

He’s an artist as well.

Lawrence has been prayed for and preyed upon. The mean streets of Chicago can be rough — a stark contrast to the kindness of the people who God puts in his life to care for him in manifold ways every single day.

Is there an answer to homelessness in America?

I don’t know if there is anything else that can be done except for this one thing:

We must not lump all of God’s homeless people into one big category and call it The Homeless Dilemma.

Each and every one of those people at the busy intersections and sitting along the avenues with their cups and their cardboard signs is a real person with a history of good times and hard times. Each and every individual who wanders the streets looking for a way to get somewhere else has a story to tell.

They have souls that require as much nourishment as their physical bodies.

They need a hug and an ear to listen to them — they say they need money, but what they might need more is a short-term connection to someone who might give them hope for another day.

Hope is a survival tool for those who have little else to carry with them.

My friends, do what you can. One person at a time is enough. Give them the time of day, give them a hug, give them a mug of hot chocolate, but whatever you do, give them hope.

Mother Goose thanks you.

This is not Lawrence.  I have never photographed my friend, not wanting to seem exploitative in any way.

This is not Lawrence. I have never photographed my friend, not wanting to seem exploitative in any way.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dianna
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 07:27:57

    It seems to be a problem with no solution. You & Husband Goose are good people.


    • Natalie
      Feb 15, 2014 @ 21:42:44

      Dianna, we really do just these very little things to help Lawrence and other homeless folk who cross our paths — every single one of them is unique in their circumstances, but similar in that they are really just like the rest of us…trying to find peace and joy and going through hard times.


  2. Bunn
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 07:40:57

    It’s a very sad awakening. Living way up here in the northland you just don’t see this. So you don’t think about it.
    Very sad. I’ll be praying for hope for the homeless.


    • Natalie
      Feb 15, 2014 @ 21:43:47

      Thank you for praying, sissy dear. I know that you would help anyone who came to your door looking for a bit of help too. Maybe I could send Lawrence up your way…


  3. jeff noel
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 08:23:26

    Lawrence is no different than anyone else. A human being. Searching for meaning. Hoping for peace and contentment. Struggling to balance all life demands of us and all life offers us.

    Maybe God is using Lawrence to allow others to pause, help, contemplate, feel gratitude, and so on.

    Only Lawrence can know for sure.


  4. jeff noel
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 12:42:09

    Had an additional thought after posting the comment above and then going for a run (thinking time).

    Maybe Lawrence is the greatest manifestation of Jesus that any of us know. He doesn’t own anything except the clothes he wears. He doesn’t know where his next meal will come from or where he will lay his head to rest.

    Yet he survives. And along his path, he leaves a trail of people who have been positively touched by his humble, meek, mild manner.


    • Natalie
      Feb 15, 2014 @ 21:49:32

      Jeff, thank you so much for such wonderful and compassionate consideration of this national problem. Indeed, Mother Teresa has said it perfectly and I will echo her words of wisdom again, ” Every day I see Jesus Christ in all his distressing disguises.”

      When we minister to the least of these, we minister to Christ Himself — what a wonderful mystery to ponder tonight.


  5. yearstricken
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 16:37:13

    Each homeless person has a unique story and unique needs. For someone like Lawrence, it doesn’t sound as if money is his real need. I hope you will be given the wisdom to know what to do next.


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