Sunday, October 11, 2009

Death of a Homeless Veteran

Posted by Jack

Some of you who live near us may have heard about the man who was struck and killed by a train just a few blocks from our house. (The story can be read, with an accompanying video, here.)

What the news story did not tell you is this: Lorenzo was a homeless man who often slept outside a garage near the site of the accident. He had many injuries, some of which were associated with his military service in Vietnam. He had lost sight in one eye and his hearing was poor.

Lorenzo could often be seen wandering around town, leaning on a shopping cart for stability. One witness who was in the area at the time of the accident reports that Lorenzo heard the train approaching as it got closer to him. He was walking with his cane and carrying a bag from his trip to the drive-thru store a few blocks away. Trying to walk quickly to get out of the way, Lorenzo lost his balance and fell. The conductor of the train reportedly saw Lorenzo crawling on his stomach, trying to get off the tracks.

And a homeless veteran died a violent death alone.

The sad truth is most people reading this message were not even remotely aware that Lorenzo existed. It is with a heavy heart that I confess my own ignorance of the details of his plight.

The easy (an evil) thing to do is to live a life that allows us to be totally disconnected from people like Lorenzo. We turn away from the homeless, from the disabled, from the veterans, from those who suffer from mental and emotional anguish. As we have tried to point out before, these, our brothers and sisters, fall outside even our peripheral vision when we consciously choose to put on blinders.

God, open our eyes that we may see.Forgive us our cold, self-satisfied apathy.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this house], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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