Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I had the privilege of volunteering at the Simpson Housing Shelter for homeless men last week. You can read a brief post that overviews that experience here. But for this post I wanted to focus on the voices that I heard from the guests that I listened to.

The first thing that I noticed about the voices that I heard was that most of them were hard to hear. The majority of the guys talked in hushed tones. It forced me to really listen and focus when I had a conversation with them. This was most noticeable during dinner. I had the opportunity to sit with 3-4 different men during dinner and it took all of my energy to really hear them - both from a sound standpoint and from a "don't try to think of how I should respond while they are still talking" standpoint.

Maybe some of the quiet in their voice was....

...fatigue. It must be very wearing physically, emotionally and spiritually to be on the street all day.

...fear. That a conversation they have will rob them of an opportunity they are pursuing if it is overheard. They are all struggling for resources and there are only so many available so they speak quietly of their opportunities....if they choose to share them at all.

...they want to draw you close and really listen. Yep, it could be that they want you to truly focus on them.

...shame. They are embarrassed about their situation, or their clothes, or ______, and so they speak softly....looking away or downward while still wanting to be heard.

...that's just the way they speak.

Of course, their was also the occasional guy that spoke loudly...trying to control his environment by the sheer volume with which they spoke. But that was the exception rather than the rule on this particular night.

Regardless of the volume of their voices....God spoke to me thru many of them and for that I am thankful. I hope that they somehow felt His love in those moments as well.

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