It's been three days since I saw The Soloist, and I can't get it off my mind. I'm not sure if that's the mark of a great movie or a guilty conscience. Maybe both.
I keep wondering if I had met musical genius Nathaniel Ayers on the street in LA (or my town), what would I have done? Would I have walked on by or would I have befriended him like journalist Steve Lopez?
I know the answer, and it's not the latter.
I think it nags at me because "my" homeless man Daniel was chased away from the street corner where he made his home. He wasn't always sober, but he didn't impose on people. He took food if offered, but I never once saw him ask anyone for anything other than a light for a cigarette. But someone told him he had to move his knapsack and find a new "home."
Probably to a place where he would fit in better. With other people like him.
But what if that's not what he wanted? Or what if he couldn't handle it?
The movie stresses that medicine and homes aren't really the answer. Instead, it's about relationships--ones that aren't particularly easy.
Similar to those taking place in Waco under I-35 where The Church Under The Bridge meets. When their pastor came to speak to my church earlier this year, he described the church body whom he serves. It's not your typical congregation; after all, how could any church that meets under I-35 be "typical"? He showed pictures of those who lead worship, many of whom share many characteristics with Nathaniel. And yet, they aren't turned away but are welcome to be part of that community. Despite their behavior. Despite their clothes. Despite their past.
I pray that my heart would be changed as a result of what I've seen and heard. Because with anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people homeless each night, this issue isn't going away any time soon.