This reflection is from The Trampled Vineyard, a book of prayers and reflection on homelessness published by the Catholic Housing Aid Society – now Housing Justice – in 1992.
I WAS HUNGRY
You saw me, I know you did.
Out of the corner of your eye.
You’d just been out for a meal.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge it.
I’m always eating out.
I WAS THIRSTY
God, so thirsty.
So it was a fountain in a park.
Why did you have to move me on?
Just a mouthful was all I wanted.
I WAS A STRANGER
My client does not speak English.
He was put in a detention centre, then placed in a bail hostel.
This man has fled repression, violence and fear.
Yet when he arrived in this country, he was put in prison.
I WAS NAKED
He looked right through me.
I felt like I was nothing.
Did he think I wanted to be there?
I couldn’t sleep all night.
It wasn’t just the cold.
I was thinking he had a warm bed, and didn’t deserve it.
I WAS SICK
The cough just wouldn’t go away.
Can’t say I’m surprised
– her bedroom’s got mould up one wall.
We forgot about wallpaper ages ago.
I can’t have her in my room, the baby sleeps with me.
… She’s eleven, she needs some space of her own.
I WAS IN PRISON
They offered me a choice – fine or prison.
Pay a fine? I was up for begging –
What did they think I could pay with? Still, I’m out now.
…. Back where I started.
The reflection was written by Christine Allen.