This blog was written on June 4, 2010.
It is Thursday (but technically Friday) and I am sitting in Union Station in downtown Los Angeles waiting for the 1:25 am bus to take me to Bakersfield to catch a train heading north to see my parents.
I have only been here once before, and it was for a brief moment when I ran past everything without really noticing anything. This time I have an extra hour before I need to leave, so I take the time to observe my surroundings.
Union Station is a beautiful old building full of decorative tiles and leather chairs and wood trim on the ceiling. It’s a place I imagine Winston Churchill or FDR enjoying because it’s what I picture being “exquisite” during their lifetimes.
Union Station is also a building full of people who don’t have homes, places to go, or people to share their stories with. Many of the faces you pass look just as weathered as the walls. As I sit in one of the old-fashioned, brown leather chairs, I notice a security guard walking around, gently waking people up and asking, “Can I see your ticket?” The response from the person is typically one of confusion, or a rustle of pockets yielding no money or ticket, followed by silence as the sleepy person walks out into the early morning. They all give the ticket man the same look: pain.
I quietly ask the security guard, “How do you do this everyday?”
“Eventually you just get used to it. It’s always the same.”
The words roll around in my mind for long time. I try to wrap my head around each of them, to somehow make sense of their meaning.
“It’s always the same.”
Why? It doesn’t have to be. We are not meant to live our lives in such brokenness. Every one of these people has a story, and each just as important. Why do we feel as if their lives are so drastically different from the security guard’s? And from my life. Or maybe yours too.
My heart aches for lonely, broken people. But also for the security guard, who has to send them away everyday, into a place where shelter may not meet them. And for the people who have a roof, and a bed, but still feel alone – my heart aches for you, and sometimes for me, because at times it feels lonelier in a crowded room than it does in an empty home.
So if that’s you right now, please know it is possible to find a place where you feel alive. You are meant for that. You deserve to have a place to go and rest. It may not involve a roof, but it will involve people. And in the sharing of your story with others, you give them permission to do the same.