How do you treat the stranger at your door
The one who comes in need of comfort
with no place to sleep
Little food
Just the few possessions they can carry in one move
This question is before us all around the world
People displaced, on the move
from the dangerous and intolerable
The refugee, the homeless
the one seeking harbor and safety
at the border, on your doorstep
fleeing the storms of the world
How do we treat the stranger at our door
Like the Lady in the harbor raising the torch
with poetry in her arms welcoming all to this shore
Or with barbed wire, the wall, the guns, the fear
It all comes home to rest in our front yard now
Just across the street in our beloved park
Yes we need compassion and love
But the harsh reality of hunger, unmet needs
of no place else to go
demands concrete solutions
As neighbors we act to meet the need
Bring food and supplies
We call and organize in all the ways we know
to pressure the city, the park, the county, the state
To answer
Not with elusive shifting drifting responsibility
or bureaucratic dysfunction and entanglements
Not to keep people languishing in tents
But to find the solution that is safe for all
Respectful, effective and long lasting
This is not the first nor the last time
we will need to answer
How do we treat the stranger at our door

© Barbara S. Tilsen

JUNE 18TH 2020

On June 11th, 2020 people were evicted from the Sheraton Hotel three blocks from my home in south Minneapolis. It had been set up as sanctuary housing for those who are homeless in our community. With nowhere else to go, tents sprang up overnight in a homeless encampment in Powderhorn Park, right across the street from where I live. As of June 18th, there are 200 tents on both sides of the park.

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