Hardly a day goes by without tragedy featured in the local news. Horrific accidents or perhaps senseless acts claiming precious lives generate headlines – usually perpetuating for a day or two as identities are revealed and communities come together to process loss. As their stories are told, we may pause to reflect and lift up their loved ones in reflection and prayer.
But not always.
A day ago, our local news included a story all too typical. Headlines announced that a homeless man had been found dead in a campsite along the riverbanks of West Nashville. No name, no history – just a brief record that a body had been found with emphasized reassurance that “authorities do not suspect foul play.”
I’ve been to that campsite. Not recently, but many times in years past. It’s one of the many campsites that we have served through our firewood ministry.
The residents of that campsite are also served by our great friends at The Little Pantry That Could. The Pantry is a special, God-filled place where people can go to get a bag or two of groceries without questions or bureaucracy – and ALL who go there leave with a hug. The Pantry is a fountain of unconditional love.
Homelessness does not equate to a lack of worth or importance – quite the contrary. If anything, we should be that much more bothered and provoked into thought as to whether or not those who are hungry and without safe shelter know they matter. They are sons, daughters, siblings, parents, friends who have fallen into dire circumstances. Many are Veterans who have served for each of us, including those who look down on them or through them without emotion, kindness, or appreciation. And, while some may be fighting demons or running from certain challenges legal or otherwise, may we be reminded of Proverbs 31:9 – and perhaps spurned into action on their behalf.
And so, the young man who died on that hill overlooking the river was not nameless or without those who cared for him. He was a friend to many. He was loved. He had purpose and worth. And he is missed.
His death is as much a loss as any other in our news, as he too was created in God’s image – no less than any other.
A “homeless man” did not die on that hill.
His name was JOSH.
If you would like to learn more about the remarkable people at The Little Pantry That Could or contribute to their service and outreach to our neighbors of greatest need in memory of Josh, please visit http://www.thelittlepantrythatcould.org.