The Winter Walk is a remarkable joint effort to raise awareness and funds to help end homelessness in Boston. Rather than six organizations competing against one another for funds and attention to serve those experiencing homelessness, they do the work together. You can give here. I am grateful for this witness to abundance and honored to welcome and bless the thousands of walkers for this event, now in its fourth year. It’s also a powerful event because it brings together folks who are are experiencing homelessness and folks who are currently living indoors, something rare in this city. I share this welcome and blessing also because I think it can be hard to see some examples of what it’s like to speak authentically from one’s own tradition while also being inclusive of those who are not. ~ Rev. Laura
Blessing on Winter Walk 2020 to end Homelessness
Sunday Feb 9 2020, 9am Copley Plaza, Boston
Welcome, you who walk, and you who roll, and you who stand and sit in full dignity.
Welcome you who got here by car or chair or bus or bike. Welcome to you who arrived by foot.
Welcome you who know these streets from the inside, and you who are here for the first time.
Welcome to walkers, corporate sponsors, organizational partners, volunteers, neighbors and donors, and all under the sound of my voice and under the cover of heaven, Welcome.
Welcome you who come here buzzing on your third cup of coffee with 2 sugars and cream, ready to run these two miles, you who are fired up and ready to go and believe in your heart of hearts that we can end to homelessness in Boston in our lifetime.
Welcome you who come here weary. Welcome you who come here worried about a sick child, a divided nation, a scarred city and broken heart. Welcome you who come here hung-over,* you who come here after a third shift, you who come here tired of so much that does not work for so many, wondering why it is so very hard to find a safe place, a warm bed, and food for the journey.
Welcome to all of you who hold so much and carry the hopes of so many. Welcome.
We come from many different place and many different backgrounds, but we all come on a common mission, to walk together to end homelessness in Boston. We all come with warm hearts and power in our feet. Beloved, this I know: The streets are made for people. And every time the people take to the streets, it is possible for the world to change.
My name is Rev. Laura Everett, and in my Christian tradition, we have many stories of walking together. But my favorite walking story is this from the Gospel of Luke: It’s after the Crucifixion. The followers of Jesus are in despair about the violence they’ve seen. All hope seems lost. Their teacher has been killed. They’re fleeing the city and confusion reigns. Two disciples are walking along the road to a town called Emmaus, and a stranger begins to walk along side of them. They talk and listen together and finally reach the town. The stranger is going to keep walking alone, but the disciples invite him to stay for dinner. It’s only when they sit down to eat dinner, only when they share a meal that they realize the stranger is the risen Christ. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?” These two disciples are so caught up in their pain and despair that they cannot recognize the Holy One was walking with them.
And so as you set out on the road today, as you come back to share a meal and share stories, and recognize the holiness of one another, I invite you to receive this blessing: The walking is the blessing. The breaking of bread is the blessing. Seeing the Holy is a blessing.
Everything is an invitation. If you’d like to reach out your hands, hold your palms up and receive this blessing:
Bless you who walk these Boston roads every day, and especially today. Bless you who raise funds, raise hopes, raise from the dead those who have overdosed, raise children to create a city where every person has a dignified place to rest their head.
Bless your feet as you move one step at a time, one day at a time, one new housing unit at a time, one new initiative at a time until we are all housed.
Bless your belly that hungers for justice, that aches for righteousness, that is waiting to be filled. May all be satisfied with enough to eat.
Bless your scars that testify to the struggle and testify to your healing. Bless the broken parts that have healed. Bless the wounded parts of you that long for healing still.
Bless your open hands that do not cling and grasp. Bless you for the courage it takes to reach out a hand. Bless you who trust there is enough to go around. Bless you who ask for help and bless you who offer.
Finally, bless your warm heart. Bless your heart that breaks. Bless your heart that refuses to grow cold and callused by the suffering of your neighbor. Bless your hearts that are burning within you as you recognize the holiness of the people walking along side of you.
May all that is holy bless you this day and always. Let the people say, Amen.
* So about that “welcome you who come here hungover” line… It got a laugh when I gave it. And I riffed a bit about knowing Boston and having seeing how many of you have shown up to church hung over. God knows, I’ve distributed communion to folks I know are drunk. We are broken people eating broken bread. I did mean this line to be funny and true, but I’ve also spent enough time with actual humans to know what a struggle sobriety is for folks who are housing unstable and for folks who have homes. Just this week, WBUR ran a story about the complex web of rules at “wet’ and “dry” homeless shelters for people looking for a place to stay. What was striking to me was after the blessing as I was walking around and chatting with folks, was how many people told me that either they were currently hung over but came anyway because they cared about ending homelessness or they told me of the times they had avoided going to church hung over because they were ashamed. I’m reminded again how many people experience the judgement and condemnation of religion rather than the invitation to wholeness and compassion for our brokenness.