Many panhandlers' lives became tangled

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 4:38 PM

Paul H. Keeler


After reading the letter of Dec. 5, "Enablers keep panhandlers on the street," I felled compelled to respond. I actually agree, but from a different perspective. I believe that we should show these men unconditional love. The letter writer’s words caused me to wonder, what if Jesus came back as a panhandler? What if we missed the second coming because we looked away, expecting Jesus to look just like us.

I believe panhandling is merely a stage where the needy give the opportunity for the blessed to share without passing judgment. The letter writer’s willingness to judge another man’s unseen truth is the pain that calls angels to duty. I choose not to judge a man who is begging, because I will never know the twisted path of his situation.

As I look into the eyes of desperate men, I stop and ask them to tell their stories so I can feel their pain, and feel what it’s like to lose everything including dignity. I can feel the emptiness of a man without hope.

My promise is that the letter writer is that if he will grasp the opportunity to walk through the snow in pair of panhandler’s shoes his perspective will change. So I challenge him to beg with a sign, on that off ramp on a snowy day and feel his dignity slip away.

A long time ago I needed shelter from a cold Oregon rain. A panhandler directed me to an old church where I could find a meal, and a bed.

During my two week stay, as I heard story after story of good men drowning in hard times. As I look back, I can promise that the experience was the best two weeks of my life. So I challenge the writer to find the courage to walk through the door of St. Anne’s homeless shelter and look deep into those desperate eyes of men who were created as your equal. Then ask and listen to their stories of how once beautiful lives became tangled.

Paul H. Keeler

Plain city

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