Red Line Philosophies

Reflection by Hope House Resident, Molly Gabaldo.

Tonight I was riding the red line to meet up with some friends downtown. The moment I walked into my selected car, I noticed a foul and strong odor of urine. Now, in my profession, I know what pee smells like, and unfortunately, wherever this scent was coming from was stale and ripe. I was not the only one noticing, either. I soon realized that the odor was coming from a man, poorly dressed, pacing on one end of the train. His pants were sagging, jacket ripped, hair disheveled, mumbling to himself.  Riders began to wave their hands in front of their faces, move out of the car and away from this man, openly offended by his lack of cleanliness. He mumbled apologies to passerbys, aware of his state.

I sat in that car wondering what the life of this man looked like before today. I was deeply disturbed by humanity’s willingness to point out the shortcomings of others by displaying their lack of acceptance of another as clearly as leaving a red line car to create space between themselves and someone perhaps seen as ‘lesser than’. So I started to ask myself: what are we willing to do to accompany our brothers and sisters? What are we willing to endure? What does that say about our own walk with God?

I believe that we are called to endure the stench of poverty. We are responsible for sitting with and recognizing the the deep wounds of injustice without turning up our noses or laughing in the face of our brother’s and sister’s barriers. I believe that walking away is accepting a societal norm of apathy. So, breathe it in. This is the task that we have set forth by God; to get so close to the needs of our communities that it just maybe becomes a part of us, no matter the “stench”.




  1. Linda L. Cook · May 23, 2016

    Thank you, Molly. What you wrote struck the note of truth in my heart. I have been in such a situation. I changed cars. The next time, if there is a next time, I ask for the courage to stay with the discomfort.


  2. robin springer · May 24, 2016

    Molly, did offer him any of the services of Port Ministries? Father Gus would have taken him with him.


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