The tattered, filthy, stinky man Slumps against the dumpster. His eyes are glazing, glassy, and His hair is mussed and knotted. Heroin and ashen blunts: His dearest, only friends. No wife, no kids, no parents, and No friends to give him shelter, He wastes in hazy loneliness and And offers up his tithes With needles and syringes that Can offer no solution But help to dull the throbbing ache Now that everyone’s gone.

Striding by, the businessmen and Women in a hustle, On their way to primp accounts They simply can’t be bothered. “He didn’t work quite hard enough,” They think to still retain Their bootstrap-yanking outlook They worked so hard to gain. “’Cause if I helped him, how would he Learn how to help himself?” They pass with snorts and Held-in breaths, the less they See the better. Unaware that they, they, too Are drinking from the gutter; Those crisply-tailored power suits Are masking flesh that’s rotted.

Now walks by a mother with her Small and spoiled child, A twelve-year-old she must protect and Shield from the wild. They have too much of what they need Yet share it? They will not. They’d rather zip up leather coats The cost of small apartments. Besides, her kid must never see This brokenness of men ’Cause what if this experience Will scar her little girl? Will strip away security and Blessedness she feels? What if, then, her dearest love Can’t actualize herself And therapists will blame the mom For stunting all her growth? She cannot bear the thought of This and yanks her daughter close. She scurries frightenedly away To take her daughter home.

Pastors, priests, and church members are Passing with a shuffle, Tugging down their holy hats to Walk right past the wretch, Or crossing to the other side For paltry ignorance. The man wants help but cannot call, They think they need not help him. They find excuses, justify A way to keep on walking: “A drug-addicted sinner, he,” They whisper to themselves, “God helps those who help themselves, Not those who live in dumpsters. Besides, he’s probably gay and this Is now God’s punishment. So let him rot while we all fly to take our sacrament.”

The man who lays against the trash To sleep away the drugs, Whose stench brings tears to passing eyes, Whose clothes are full of mud, Is dearly loved in Jesus’ sight, The One to whom we claim Our deepest loyalties and love, Yet will we do the same Deeds of kindness that He did and Asks us all to do?

Maybe it is the poor man’s fault, Maybe he’s addicted To drugs and booze and prostitutes. Should that change how he’s treated? A man who bears God’s image, Who God loves as a child, A man who could be anyone If we had different luck.

Are we simply inward-focused? Honestly, I ask. I’m concerned with lights and sound While many scrape for food. Do I care enough to tell them Answers that I’ve found? Or is my church to me a club, A place where I can be With other people in this city Who all are just like me.

Like what you’re reading?

Danny Nathan grew up at Grace participating in the music and worship ministry. He’s currently a worship leader at Grace, ushering people into God’s presence through song in a variety of venues, including our Sunday worship services and Grace Students gatherings. Danny is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in English. In June 2016, Danny married his high school sweetheart, Alli.