June 15, 2016

June 2016 Blog Update

When we started this ministry, to be with the homeless in Portland, ten years ago, we did not really understand the educational component involved. It has evolved though as a very important aspect of our work. Sharing the stories and educating the housed on the reality of poverty and homelessness is a big part of what we do. It does not just lessen the barriers between people, it also allows those who are more fortunate to share more closely in the circumstances of others. 
I believe at our core we are compassionate beings. Much can get in the way of that potential of caring and sharing. Many of us become numb to the pain around us and or feel impotent to make any positive difference. The Church on the Cape, Cape Porpoise are not an apathetic crowd. They put their compassion into action as demonstrated this past winter- supplying  our ministry and therefore hundreds of homeless with winter socks all through the winter and recently they have come forth again , spearheaded by one member BeverlyBangs, with a supply of hundreds of white socks for the summer.
This may seem like a small change in someones life, a pair of clean socks but think about your feet, wet and blistered as many are and having the small comfort at the end of the weary day of warm, dry socks.

Compassionate hearts touching hurting feet -no small thing. 

April 19, 2016

April GSM Blog Post

Way back in March of 2006, Rev. Mair Honan and a colleague began to explore the idea of being a pastoral presence among the homeless of Portland, Maine.  They began walking the streets of Portland to assess if there was a need for this kind of ministry among those on the very edges of society.  Although it took some time to gain the trust of the people on the street, the need was definitely there, and in March of this year, Grace-Street Ministry celebrated its 10th Anniversary of providing presence, prayer and advocacy for the homeless in the shelters and on the streets of Portland.
And although all of us here at Grace-Street long for a day when homelessness is eliminated and we’re no longer needed, that is certainly not the case right now.  The twin scourges of a critical lack of affordable housing, combined with the opioid epidemic, are putting greater and greater numbers of people in need of our services.   And lately, there has been a new problem added into the mix, the synthetic cannabinoid called Spice.  Although it is supposed to be synthetic marijuana, it’s side effects can be startling, ranging from paranoia and anxiety all the way up to full blown psychosis.  It can also induce an almost catatonic state where a user will be standing, bent over at the waist, leaning their head against a wall, motionless and unresponsive.
And so the three pastors of Grace-Street continue to walk the streets of Portland and visit the various shelters, where they listen to the stories, hold the pain and help to bring the hope that comes from a relationship with the sacred to the people that so much of society has simply discarded.

It is truly a privilege to do this work.

February 09, 2016

February 4, 2016

February 4, 2016

January update

Our people come not only in ones but also in twos and threes. At first, on any given winter day, you may "see" the ~150 people inside the Preble Street Resource center and the ~50 people outside in the courtyard only as “ones.” But soon you see the “twos,” the couples, those just forming to those long bonded. And then you notice the “threes” (just look for the strollers). These are the families who have lost homes. One such family we’ve known for three months by now was forced to move out of their apartment last summer after the landlord repeatedly refused to abate the dangerous levels of lead that were built up in that apartment and that were thus building up in their infant. Can you imagine the anguish of that? Then though they searched there was no affordable alternative for them in greater Portland, no room for them at the Inn of the housed. But … there was the Family shelter, and there was the Resource center, and there were the Case workers, and there was the Soup kitchen, the whole kit and caboodle. And there was Grace-Street Ministry and our modest mission of presence, prayer, and advocacy with and for all our people, those who come in threes and twos and ones alike. For all this we thank God and keep ministering. Amen

January 12, 2016

A Blog Update for GSM for January 2016

         A new year, a new month, a new week, a new moment... each breath is a renewal of life, a gift, a chance for awakening. Fine idea to ponder this New Year's, but most of us are not living in that awakened state of gratitude. Certainly the people we meet and share with on the streets and in the shelters are often stuggling to survive, physically and mentally, living in a tsunami of suffering. Yet, they teach us often about strength and aliveness.
  Ten years ago, when I was first starting this work,  I met a fellow who had been sleeping in the bushes the night before. I was walking along in a kind of numb state. His radiant face stopped me and he asked me, “ Pastor, did you see that moon last nite?”  “No”, I replied, I had missed it. He went on, describing its beauty. And so the learning continued.
Suffering and anxiety can take us down and there is so much pressure it seems to deepen our fear. Yet, we have a choice to choose love over fear, moment to moment. We are learning what that feels and looks like through our work. People teach us every time we are out and about with them.

So, at this beginning of marking a New Year, we stop to thank all we have had the privilege of learning from and loving through this ministry,those who have died, those who are still struggling and those who have moved on to more secure environments. 

We love you,  Pastor Mair, Pastor Bob and Pastor Jeff

December 14, 2015


A couple weeks back, a woman at the shelter told me that her Bible had randomly fallen open to Ezekiel, Chapter 14, and – given that we had an ongoing discussion about the possibility of grace within what she saw as the evil of the shelter – she wondered what I thought?

I said I’d get back to her, and over the next week I thought about how the worship of idols by the citizens of Israel had caused God to turn his face away from his chosen people, and more importantly what that might mean to those on the street.

We talked the following week, and touched on the pagan idol worship that predated Judaism, about the idea of sin as an idol separating us from God and about the voluntary ceding of individual autonomy giving idolatrous power to others. 

We finally came to the idea of addiction – something common at the shelter -- as an idol that would cause God to turn his face away.   We wondered whether drug use was a disease or a choice; was it merely the craving of the body and not the longing of the heart, and as such an understandable human failing that would find forgiveness in the eyes of God?

What is it in our lives that would cause God to turn his face from us?

We came to no firm conclusion, but the simple fact that we could have this conversation outside of the day shelter on the cusp of winter highlights the undeniable fact that the divine is always present, no matter the circumstances.  We just have to slow down, breathe, look around and realize that our simple human shortcomings are no bulwark against divine love.  If we are facing God with a longing in the deepest recesses of our heart to know him, I am convinced that he will not turn away.   He will meet us exactly where we are – as the saying goes, warts and all.