Be slow to judge, fast to serve


iritTrinity Center is unique in its commitment to serve people through cultivating relationships. We offer respect to all, and we are attempting to break some of our “regular” barriers of Us/Them that keep us feeling safer, in some sense, by associating only with “people like ourselves”.

It is not always easy and at times it can be quite challenging. We are aware that some of the people we serve made un-healthy choices in their lives, and some still do. We may even ask someone to leave when his or her behavior is unacceptable and lacks respect for others. Yet, when I ask someone to leave, what I try to remember, as a guiding wisdom, was said by one of my spiritual teachers in response to a question. He said, “though I may decide not to play with you, I will not throw you out of my heart”. In the Buddhist tradition it is known as discriminative wisdom. The difference between this and judgment is in the not throwing the people out of my heart, not separating.

It is easy to look at people experiencing homeless, whether outside Trinity Center’s entrance or at any street corner, as “them” and assume that their predicaments are their own doings and thus we hold no responsibility. It is common for well-meaning people to hand homeless people some food and water but refrain from handing them any dollar bills, and it is most common to hand the people whatever we decide to give at any moment without looking them in the eyes.

At Trinity Center, we try to accept folks where they are at, assist those who are ready to move forward, and be gracious to those who are not ready, or even not willing. It does not mean that we do not get frustrated. We do get frustrated, at times tired, and often sad. One of my inspirations, in keeping- on- keeping- on, comes from my Jewish tradition that suggests that “it is not up to you to complete The Work, nor are you free to not do it”. In this context “The Work” means to me serving others, and coming closer to God.

As you bless, so may you be blessed.


Irit Umani