Christmas Under the Overpass


Downtown San Francisco is packed with grumpy people running around doing last minute shopping and sitting in traffic. Luckily I had the opportunity to venture off the beaten path and spend time out at the encampments under the freeway.

Unlike what I saw downtown, the Christmas cheer was vibrant here… even though folks were taking time between rain storms to dry out and prepare for the next storm headed our way. During the storm, when a big rig drives over the overpass, a thick wall of water comes crashing down on the tents. It’s pretty brutal, but folks talked about it in a pretty comical way… one of those things that’s rough, but you gotta find the humor in.

Tarps come in handy, so along with socks, tarps are a good thing to give folks who are sleeping on the street… and sleeping bags and tents. Tarps plus a little creative engineering can shield you from the downpour.

Someone who was headed out of town for the holiday donated their Christmas tree to the encampment… that sure brightened everyone’s spirits! We took group pictures in front of the tree… I’ll have to print those up and bring them copies.

As we made our way to another area a car pulled up and handed a group a big bag of food… good food too! So cool to see random acts of kindness like that. It was very appreciated too… little things like can really mean a lot.

The bus ride back into downtown took a ridiculously long time… we were just sitting in traffic. A man recognized me on the bus… from a training I gave to the SFPD on homelessness! So random, but we had a good conversation that passed the time.

As I sat on the bus looking at the traffic and crowds, I was thankful I had the opportunity to spend the day the way I did… instead of fighting the crowds trying to buy a bunch of junk. It was a good day.


3 thoughts on “Christmas Under the Overpass

  1. It sounds like you found Grace in many ways today…the number of acts of kindness this year have warmed my heart. My prayer is that people would remember to do these all year long and work to find solutions rather than temporary acts of relief. Blessings in your ministry, it is so needed most especially this time of year! Peace!

  2. You are speaking my language! The outreach I was doing was to inform the social justice work we do… and to encourage folks experiencing homelessness to get involved in the coalitions efforts. At the same time we help folks handle their “quality of life” citations… the ones they receive for doing life sustaining activities such as sitting or sleeping. The criminalization of homelessness is a huge issue and perpetuates poverty. I am a community organizer/advocate on homelessness here in San Francisco. I’m constantly having to explain to those in faith communities the difference between charity and social justice. They seem to LOVE charity, but social justice is more of a challenge. We have a huge systemic issue… charity isn’t going to solve it. I’m working on organizing faith communities because currently there aren’t any faith based groups organizing on the social justice side of homelessness.

  3. That is really surprising to me, especially with this Pope! Well, my promise to be involved still stands….with all our upheaval the past few months and disappointments, I am working on finding a way to return for good. I believe it’s time to come home and I want my children to really see the mininstry I once did as well where the needs truly exist right now. I think what you are doing is movement forward, I truly do believe we are all ready for change and awareness!

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