God’s Image is Homeless in Glasgow
I am in Glasgow. It is dark. By lamplight, cold, damp stairs lead down into a dark indiscriminate jumble of cardboard, rags and boxes. It is raining. I glance, walk past, stop, then turn back. Something had caught my eye. From a clutter of discarded rubbish, a hand sticks out, clutching a bottle. And a battered suitcase – the only two signs of humanity amongst all this detritus. I don’t know whether it is a man or a woman. Probably a man. Does it matter? The scene tugs at my heart.
Underneath all this is a person made in God’s image. I am angry: at the devil; at what he is doing to humanity; at what he is doing to God’s creation. I feel helpless. I look at him. What can I do? Was he fast asleep, drunk, drugged? I can’t offer him food or anything. I just watch. I pray, it is the only thing I can do at this time. It is the best I can do. My heart goes out to him.
I walk away, continuing to pray for him: for the agencies that help people, like him, who live on the streets; for the people who find themselves in these situations. I pray as I walk home: for the Lord to bring people to help this man and the hundreds of others.
I wonder why it is that at this time I should feel so deeply about this person. The image of a hand reaching into the air holding an empty bottle, so vulnerable, so lonely, burns into my memory. I sense God’s love for him. He is not alone: throughout the city, there are many homeless people. The suitcase: an image, evocative of this man’s worldly possessions. Maybe the Lord wants me to pray at this time. Maybe he guided me along this street. I don’t know the answer.
Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you.” (John 12:8). He also asks us to care for them. “Love your neighbour as yourself,” He said. (Mt. 22:39).