Street Scribes

January 23rd, 2017  |  Source: PS Magazine

The story of the literary magazine whose authors are all homeless.

In January 2011 I presented myself as a volunteer at the Monday Lunch, the weekly free meal for the homeless hosted by the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston. I was on a spiritual quest — which sounds ridiculous, but there it is. I’d been lurking nervously in churches (“Hang in there!” one priest said to me as I sloped past him toward the exit), reading Catholic mystics, waiting for something to click. And I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was fractious at home, miserable with my work. But as I stepped into that grumbling, ruminant, school-food-smelling basement and registered the various enormous and off-kilter personalities ranged around me, I had a profound sensation of arrival. All right, I thought: You’re here.

I’d been a volunteer among homeless people before — in London shelters, and at the Community for Creative Non-Violence in Washington, D.C. — but always in an essentially passive, youthful, hanging-out-and-occasionally-mopping-something-up capacity. Now I was in my 40s, with a bit of experiential weight on me. It was time to instigate. But how? With what?

That October, the Reverend Cristina Rathbone — pastor and focal presence of the Monday Lunch community — led a dozen of us on a pilgrimage, walking 60 miles out of Boston, sleeping on church floors, to a retreat center in West Newbury. On the road we looked motley, medieval, straggling along with fluttering flags and unconventional headgear: We were met with wild shouts of encouragement from passing cars, and very occasionally by some abuse hanging in the slipstream. “We’re on a spiritual pilgrimage!” one of our company, Steve, would cheerfully volunteer to starers or curious passersby. We made it anyway. And it was in one of the cottages at the retreat center, at 3 a.m., that the idea came to me. I woke up suddenly with a gift, a brainstorm in the dark: I would start a magazine for homeless writers, and it would be called The Pilgrim.

Read on here: https://psmag.com/radical-efforts-to-end-homelessness-street-scribes-6db42c96ab43#.2r78zspmy




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