|A Sheltered Life: Take It To The Streets by Jeremy Reynalds|
That's what kept rolling around in my mind as I read, A Sheltered Life: Take It To The Streets by Jeremy Reynalds. There is an emotional resonance that filters throughout this autobiographical work of Reynalds. It represents the down-trodden and, oftentimes, anguished part of society that many choose to ignore.
This novel is deeply rooted in Christianity. The author finds his motivation and illumination from his own beliefs. This doesn't mean that he didn't struggle with the acceptance of religion itself. Having agnostic foundations as a child, he found himself climbing a difficult slope.
"I responded by letting my long-suffering instructor know that Christianity was a crutch for old women and the intellectually feeble... I remember scoffing at various religious posters I saw plastered around town. I proudly declared, 'I am not a Christian. I am an agnostic. You can't tell me if there is a God.' "
The turbulent parts of his own life, from a lonely and futile childhood to an intrinsically inspired leap of faith that took him from England all the way across the pond to the United States, displays a salve of inchoate realization.
Though Christianity is his ultimate stimulus for traversing throughout America as a homeless man, the reader is introduced to a transcendental vision. Something highly unlikely, yet incredible in its fruition.
"...this acquisition allowed the shelter ministry a sense of permanence and stability... To me, it also meant an increased hope that however hostile downtown business owners grew toward the homeless, and however large the homeless population grew in Albuquerque, we would be able, with the Lord's help, to be a part of the solution."
While telling his own story, Reynalds engenders throughout the book a growing epidemic around us. It reminds us that each individual has a past that characterizes a desperate attempt at normalcy; the plight of the homeless who, for various reasons, end up in "a deep homeless quagmire". It's appalling to read the injustices committed against people whose only crime is being indigent.
"When you're robbed of the possessions you have and the few dollars you might get for a day's labor, that just adds insult to injury... When our staff first heard about these incidents, we assumed that it was random street violence...happen quite frequently on the streets of downtown Albuquerque, every victim she spoke with said the perpetrator made some comment like 'You're homeless anyway. It's not like you have to pay rent with this money.' "
The author has composed an invaluable and gritty novel that evokes a sense of hope, if not in religion, than in human nature. It is an amazing story that is poignant and moving.
Dr. Jeremy Reynalds was born in England and immigrated to the US in 1978. He founded Joy Junction, now New Mexico's largest homeless shelter. He also writes for the ASSIST News Service and has authored several books.
A Sheltered Life: Take It To The Streets by Jeremy Reynalds, 2013 ISBN 978-1-4497-9020-2