I'm not sure I have words for this; it's too raw, too new. But somebody should say something. Someone should.
Yesterday my cell group from church went downtown to serve the homeless youth of Denver a homecooked meal. It was fun, and novel. And TERRIBLE.
So much of the time I wear my rose-tinted suburbia glasses. I forget there is another world out there, one where the grit of poverty has worked itself into fabric of every part of life.
Homeless youth. Kids 14-21ish. Homeless. They've aged out of foster care, or been kicked out of residential programs. They've been abused, and neglected. They suffer from addiction and mental illness.
But they're just kids really.
They were courteous and funny. They were clean, and filthy. One wore a cat on his backpack, and another looked like he worked at REI. Just kids. Just people.
I was enjoying myself until I got a kick in the gut. On the outskirts of the gathering was a girl with a bundle in her arms. A baby. And they just kept trickling in...these kids with babies and toddlers. You could tell that, just like any momma, these girls loved their babies. But they were on the streets. How's a girl on the streets, who's only ever known the armpit of life, supposed to raisee a baby?
Where do they sleep at night, these girls and their babies? Under a bridge? On a sofa? In a shelter?
That 12 month old baby I held shouldn't have been so little. She should have had better muscle tone...12 month old babies don't flop when you hold them. They shouldn't, anyway. But baby Elizabeth's momma loved her. She mixed up a bottle watered-down formula, and tucked her in with another ratty blanket when the air got chilly.
What box does that fit in? How can a homeless girl with a baby in a relatviely affluent city make sense. And despite what she says...Elizabeth's momma got kicked onto the streets by her family for a good reason. There are no innocents here, except that baby.
growing up on the streets...
who drinks watered-down formula from a semi-clean bottle...
who doesn't know that some babies are going to sleep tonight in cribs,
where it's warm,
and their tummies are full.