Saturday 8 December 2018

Wisdom from the Homeless - Neil Craton, M.D.

Lessons a Doctor Learned at a Homeless Shelter

About the Book:

Sometimes the world seems like a very dark place. In this angry world, I have seen a glimpse of light. I have seen kindness, love and hope at a homeless shelter. Siloam Mission is named after a pool where, in Biblical times, Jesus healed a blind man. In this tradition, the Mission has a medical clinic, and I have had the privilege of working there. The homeless men and women I have met at Siloam have taught me profound lessons about perseverance through suffering, expressing joy in dire circumstances, and the rewards of service to those in need. I want to share those lessons with you....


My Thoughts: 

Every once in a while a book comes along, that will stay with you, long after the last page has been read. Wisdom from the Homeless, is that kind of book for me. No doubt, the poignant stories and striking photos gracing these pages will linger for a long time, perhaps even hauntingly. As well they should. We have so much that we can share with the less fortunate!

Another aspect that will linger is the passion and kindness of the people serving the patrons of Siloam Mission, especially those in the medical field. It can't be easy seeing so much pain, disease, addictions... knowing those patients are homeless. I can't imagine nursing my little aches and discomforts, without a clean bed in a warm home to rest in. By contrast, there are people dealing with serious health issues and are living on the street. 

After treating a man with a dangerous bacteria on a badly broken and infected wrist, which 'had been unattended for days', Dr. Craton emphasized it beautifully:  

"This man needed mercy not judgment. I tried to imagine that I held the hand of Jesus, and for me that transformed the moment into something transcendent. I was no longer fighting through the smell of glue and infection or trying to figure out how this man got here; I was meeting God." 

 I had to put the book down for a few minutes - it's difficult to read through tears. 

 I've volunteered at Siloam Mission and know that it's a life-changing experience. That's one of the reasons this book caught my attention. The other is, when the temperature dips to -25C and I'm snug and warm in my bed, I wonder how many are curled up in a cardboard box on the street. That alone has compelled me to reach out. I realize, what I do as a volunteer is minuscule in comparison to Dr. Craton's contribution. However, if we all do something, significant changes will ensue. "Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant sand. - Julia A. F. Carney.

Woven into each story are Dr. Craton's candid accounts of self-reflections and lessons learned from the homeless. They're thought-provoking and beautiful and help make this such a powerful and heart-warming read: 

"I try to view the act of washing a homeless person’s feet in the context of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. For me, this changes the experience from something clinical, to something sacred."

"Pop (and my daughter) taught me a lesson I need to learn over and over again: that pride and fear can live side by side in my spirit, and both corrupt my expression of who I really am. Pride causes me to love myself more than others, and fear makes my neighbors enemies. Wisdom from the homeless."
If you've ever seen a homeless person, regardless if you've felt sympathy or less than empathetic, and have wondered what brought him/her to this point, you should read this book. It will cause you to pause, self-reflect, give you insights which you may not have otherwise and inspire you to help in some way.

My sincere thanks to Dr. Neil Craton for penning this powerful portrayal of homelessness and for sending me a complimentary e-copy in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I am with homeless almost daily. I have made friends with some of them. I have watched them fight and get arrested. I have watched a few slowly die. They have taught me much by giving them a listening ear.

    1. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. Just finished reading Neil Craton's book. An interesting worthwhile read and insight into the work carried out at Siloam Mission.

    1. Thanks, Herb. It certainly is. I highly recommend this book.


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