You can never stop being surprised by my job of working with street-dependent young people. This happened during a cold weather response, while handing out jackets, blankets and the like. There were two people at the truck. One was a 20 year old male client and the other was an older gentleman who I’ve seen around and occasionally serve. We’re focused on young people but we are happy to serve older folks that fit in.
The older man was talkative and asking me lots of questions. The young client had his face covered with a scarf and I could only see his eyes. He listened intently to our conversation.
The older man asked me lots of questions, but pursued a line of questions around why I chose to server young people. I explained my view about how young street-dependent people and older homeless people are different, admitting that I was talking broad brush. There are always exceptions and as many unique stories as there are people on the street. But a typical street youth, finds that on the street it is the best place he or she has been yet. That doesn’t mean all of them come from broken homes, although a majority do, but that they didn’t fit in where they came from. They find a sense of belonging on the street.
As I shared this and more, I watched my client to see his reaction. He seemed to nod in agreement. I never want to tell anyone anything about street youth that I wouldn’t say in front of my clients. And I’ve learned to ask for feedback. After an interview or presentation, I turn and ask my clients if I get it right. It’s part of the authenticity that street youth are looking for.
My attempts to draw my young client into the conversation failed, and somehow the older man started asking about sex. I explained that I don’t fight the obvious culture wars with my clients. I admit sex is awesome. In fact, I proclaim that it’s awesome and invented by God. However, I teach that it was provided by God for a reason. And that reason is to bring us together in intimacy with our spouse. That union is holy and God given. It’s not about getting off, getting love, or growing up. It’s about sharing. And I also teach John Paul’s II theology of the body. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in constant communion. And the closest thing we come to that on earth is sex. That is physical sex that comes from putting body into body, combined with emotional connection and mental sharing. I noticed my client squirming and looking uncomfortable. I thought at first he didn’t agree. But that wasn’t it. Then I thought I embarrassed him. But that didn’t appear to be it either.
Then I noticed in his eyes that he was fighting back tears.
This is the end of Part I. Part II continues on next blog post.
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