The four noble truths in Buddhism are based on suffering. Life brings suffering. This of course has many meanings and many different interpretations. It's a saying that is true from many different angles. Life is not some gloomy depressing voyage, but we all have suffering within our lives. The degree of this suffering ranges from person to person, not only in what each person has as a reality but mainly in how each person perceives their reality.

We all have our stories. We all have had difficulties we've had to work through in life. We all have our stories of triumph and failure through the trials and tribulations that the road of life puts in front of us. Every single one of us has our struggles, shortcomings, hurdles, and difficulties. My current struggles; over the last year dealing with arthritis in both my knees, some gut and diet issues that I've been working through for almost two years... how to better manage my family/work/social time with my abundance of workload... how I'm going to provide for my family with a son about to turn 12, a daughter due in September and plans for one or two more... those are the first worries that come to mind for me. I'm pretty damn happy with that. I've been through my share of hardship in different forms that I have a good enough perspective on life that I know I have a lot to be thankful for and that my "problems" are good ones. I feel like a jerk to consider these struggles. The arthritis is manageable. I've adjusted to my gut and diet, it's a pain in the ass to order food when I go out... boo-hoo I get to go out to eat. I have many passions in life and I have a great family and network of friends, my time is always split between what I love doing and people I love being with, so I struggle to do more of what I love and/or see people I love more... simply a matter of having to be content with the fact that there is 168 hours in a week and needing to sleep for a few of those. After wrestling with fertility problems for four years you won't hear me actually complain about anything baby related... but the burden of providing for the ones I'm responsible for will always be a concern. I'm HAPPY!!!! to have these struggles. If I were to take my problems and mix them with anybody else's I'd fight to get mine back. I'm very thankful to be where I'm at right now.

I hope you also have more manageable concerns than you have hardships. Not all of us are lucky enough to have welcomed struggles. Hardship and tough times can happen to anyone. Small struggles can turn life pretty tough pretty quickly. Left without a safety net the fall can be a long and tough recovery. Lose a job, fall behind on rent, transmission in your only car goes out, get sick and not have sufficient insurance coverage... the fall from comfort can be quick and easy. It can happen to anyone. Thankfully there are people and organizations out there that can help others get up after they have fallen, after they've dropped through the net they had... if they had a net at all. 

Homeless Connections is there to help people when their struggles conquer their comfort. The organization started in Appleton, Wisconsin as a single leased home in 1983. It now has a 78 bed facility in downtown with four focused programs to help end homelessness;

  • Prevention Program through a collaboration with LEAVEN, provides financial assistance and connections to community resources to those who are at risk of losing their housing.
  • Street Outreach connects individuals who are acutely homeless and living with mental illness and/or addiction.
  • Shelter Program that provides safe and temporary shelter with personal care items and daily meals, all to meet their basic needs.
  • Case Management Program that provides personal guidance to individuals and families that are in the Shelter Program. Case managers work with individuals to create a personal plan for success, connecting them to community resources like workforce development, health care, and housing providers.

Homeless Connections relies a lot on volunteers that are motivated to help out their mission. Mark Armstrong is one of those volunteers. He helps out every year with a program he organizes called The Ton of Food event. This year he realized an opportunity on a day that the State of Wisconsin allows fishing without paying for a permit. He got a group together through Thrivent, his employer, gathered fishing poles (that were gifted to the participants at the end of the day) and bait, got some food and drink together and held a cookout and fishing day open to anyone interested that was in the Shelter Program at Homeless Connections. It was a great day to get out and enjoy a beautiful summer day, get some lines in the water and laughs on the land. While I was there the only catches the hooks found were some seaweed, a chair and some  worms... but catching fish isn't always the point of fishing, right? Everybody had a good time, lots of laughs, conversation, some food and drink... a nice care free day where the struggles were forgotten.

Thanks for stopping by.

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