In the Lectionary

July 2, Ordinary 13A  (Psalm 13)

I hear the psalmist’s words on the lips of the unhoused. How long, O Lord?

I picture the words of the psalmist on the lips of many people living without a home—many in plain sight in big-city encampments, thousands more hidden from view across America. How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long must I bear pain in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

Each January local officials, social workers, public safety officers, and hearty volunteers mount an exercise in not forgetting the nation’s unhoused—a cumbersome and challenging effort to count every person living outside or in a temporary shelter in every community. It’s called the point-in-time count, and a February 3 New York Times article describes it this way:

They go into the streets in search of data. Peeking behind dumpsters, shining flashlights under bridges, rustling a frosted tent to see if anyone was inside. This is what it takes to count the people in America who don’t have a place to live. To get a number, however flawed, that describes the scope of a deeply entrenched problem and the country’s progress toward fixing it.