Inside the plastic baggie I see a paper towel and a dead bedbug. The bearer of this gift asks me if I want to have it for evidence. Not really. The young people in our shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth view me as an authority in such matters and want me to see the source of their distress with my own eyes. Yes, I am concerned and distressed. It reminds me of when I make a hospital visit and a patient wants to pull off sheets and lift bandages so I can see an incision, staple, stitch or wound. Words are not enough. I am called to be a witness of these things.
I think of the time an after-school program director found a “used and full condom” on the floor while she was setting up for the children. She too asked if I would like to have the bag as evidence. (It appears that I have become an ecclesiastical CSI.) Fortunately, it was not entirely up to me to remedy this situation. I sent an e-mail to our ever-thorough shelter director and immediately received the following: