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The Emptiness of Our Hands: A Lent Lived on the Streets

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1418433291
ISBN-10: 1418433292
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (September 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1418433292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1418433291
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,601,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roget Lockard on November 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ash Wednesday, 1999, Columbus, Ohio. Two friends, Phyllis and James, leave Phyllis' house, pull the door closed, and the lock latches behind them. They have no key to reenter, for they are leaving their homes, and all the comforts of home, family and friends, to spend the 47 days of Lent and Holy Week as homeless persons, walking the streets by day and spending their nights on the street, in the homeless shelters, then in their own makeshift shelter in a hobo town along the railroad tracks. Why? They are not, either of them, entirely sure when they set out. Phyllis only knows that she must; James offers to accompany his friend, and we can guess at the mix of feelings he experienced when his offer was accepted.

Why? Phyllis tells us, quoting Annie Dillard in the Prologue, that "This is not a thing that I have sought. But it has come across my path and I have seized it." And they do seize it, though at times they must have felt seized by it. No longer wrapped in the trappings of who they have known themselves to be, they take on a kind of invisibility; the invisibility of the homeless. The world - that world that you and I walk around in - does not see them, because they - because we - do not want to see them. Eyes are studiously averted. Children, who haven't yet learned that the homeless are invisible, are drawn sharply away as they pass on the sidewalk, by parents troubled to make even this degree of recognition.

James builds pin-hole cameras with materials rescued from dumpsters, and takes pictures of their new world - the same world they'd occupied so recently, now changed almost beyond recognition. The pictures, fuzzy and murky by virtue of the primitive technology, are perfect illustrations for this book.
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Format: Paperback
The authors spent the 40 days of Lent and Holy Week 1999 living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio, being "present" to the homeless and destitute living there, under the radar of most notice. We learn much through their eyes about the "Christ is distressing disguise" we ignore in our own community. There is no simple do-gooder attitude here, but a deep reflection on the habits of the heart that often harden each of us in our attitudes and behavior towards others, especially those in long-term need. The authors listen and let the homeless speak, rather than talking about or down to them. The 30 b/w photos made with pin-hole cameras from street trash open a new lens on a familiar cityscape. In words and photos it is a map of the heart.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't know much about homeless, and thought about helping serve food at a shelter. But after reading this book, I am so much more aware and feel more compassionate when i see a homeless person. I hope I will find an opportunity to help with the homeless plight one day. Phyllis and James lived on the street for lent and suffered the effects of weather, the risk of crime, the physical issues of people exposed to the elements, the preachy "better than you" people in the missions and also the compassionate people they met on the street that lent them money for phones or food. As an American, we have all been conditioned to think these people prefer the street because of their mental health or substance abuse. The book challenges that thinking and you start to wonder if people who are down on their luck, those who are mentally ill or those who are substance abusers, deserve shelter despite their addictions and history. I enjoyed the book as it made me want to make some changes in my attitude and to be more aware of how i might want to help in the future.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You have always heard "We are just one pay check away from being homeless." Well this book really gives you an understanding of what it is like to step into the shoes of a homeless man or woman. You experience both men and women homeless shelters, living down by the river, living under a bush, having to beg for money, winters in Ohio,life without hope etc etc. It is a great read when you are done you have a deeper understanding and more compassion for what a homeless man or woman is going through. Treat yourself to a great read.
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Format: Paperback
This record of the experience of intentionally living on the streets as a spiritual practice reminded me of the extremes of loneliness I have undergone, and of how opening the heart is the only way through. An articulate report of our shared humanity with the very ones we tend to make "other" and in taking on the mantle of their hardship, these two on pilgrimage learned how deeply we are they. James' pin-hole photgraphy captures more than images; they translate the brilliance of any given moment as well as the depths of obscuration and dark hopelessness that homelessness engenders.
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