The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog

Befriending People in Dallas Who Are Homeless

Vision of a Man April 17, 2010

Filed under: criminalization of the homeless,healing,homelessness,hunger,inspiration — Karen Shafer @ 8:57 pm

Saturday, April 17, 2010

“…to love Him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.”  ~~Mother Teresa

Vision of a Man

I watched a man move down the walk,

A man whom I call friend –

A lonely soul who lives outdoors,

Whose struggles never end.

Belongings in three grocery sacks,

A clean shirt (for today),

His long hair streaming down his back…

I watched him walk away.

‘Why can’t I help him, Lord?’ I cried.

‘Why can’t I fix his pain?

There’s so much I would like to do…’

Yet there he goes,


Just then, the world –

The street, the cars –

(As I stood and watched him go,)

Became a field of diamonds…

And I somehow saw

The Whole.

For just one instant –

Sparkling, clear –

When Time stood still,

And God was Here,

A gentle voice

Into my ear…


‘It is so much deeper than that.’

And I saw…

My friend is Perfect,

Though broken he appears.

I saw…

My friend is Sacred,

Exactly as he is.

He’s not in need of fixing

Does not call for repair,

Or people looking through him

As if he wasn’t there.

He doesn’t need


Like a twisted knot of twine.

Does not require


To walk a different line.

He does not need

A drug, a rule, a class, a bath, a fine.

What he requires

Is caring,

And the privilege

Is mine.

Karen Shafer

c 4/17/10


5 Responses to “Vision of a Man”

  1. Mandy Says:

    This is beautiful and you truly experienced a moment sacred and precious and privileged to be able to see deeper into the meaning of it all that is so hard for us to understand sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing! I am going to print it out and keep it!

  2. Karen Shafer Says:

    Thank you, Mandy.

    I know you’ll have many precious moments in your work caring for people. They are a privilege indeed and something to keep us going.

    Thanks for commenting,

  3. Nancy Says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful poem.
    It is a good reminder that sometimes when we want to help, the person may or may not need our help.

    I believe that all of us want to be treated as a human beings, not as a problems to be solved or a project for a makeover.

    In statistics you can come up with an average, it is made up a several numbers and any outlier can mess up your plan. You make notes about outliers as oddities or anomolies that don’t really count and only discuss the numbers that do count, all the while trying to figure out how to deal with that number out on the edge. Do you include it in your calculations, make a suggestion for how to fix it or do you just leave it out because your conclusions will be less messy that way.

    Some people have something inside them that makes them move to a different calling, if they want anything, it may only be our acknowledgement that they are are human beings who have wants and needs and those wants and needs may be defined differently than those who live in the mainstream dominant culture.

  4. Karen Shafer Says:

    Thanks, Nancy, for the important and insightful comments.

  5. David & Linda Says:

    Hi Karen,

    You’re such a good writer and it’s was a joy to read your poem. We both agree that it really must be “deeper than that”.

    It would be so nice if we could all be more understanding of those who prefer to live without boundaries. They don’t need our pity or sometimes even the materials things we offer as much as plain consideration.

    I’m glad we bookmarked this place

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