Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Peace, Quiet, Heat

It was definitely hot tonight -- left Nightwatch about 9:00 p.m. and headed out to a Queen Anne bar with Pastor Dave, feeling sweaty.

First stop was nearly deserted. Talked a little of this and that --nothing very exciting, played a game of darts with Dave. In the middle of the game I started talking about a book I finished reading: Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. Can't say I recommend it -- really raw, graphic, horribly disconnected, but instructive about heroin subculture.

But almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, the bartender and another patron were wanting to talk about the book. We went from beat writers and gonzo journalists to those who were our favorites. I told them we should come up with a top ten list for the bar. Kurt Vonnegut was highly regarded, and the bartended named East of Eden by John Steinbeck. He acknowledged his was an "erudite" bar.

From Queen Anne we returned downtown to Third and Bell. The topic of favorite writers continued -- a homeless friend was reading a pot boiler -- he said he didn't like it really, but he always finishes what he starts. Pastor Dave played pool. The bartender kicked a few people out -- lots of drugs in the neighborhood, and people are coming in to attempt to use the bathroom or make a connection. Still it was pretty quiet, late in the month.

It's one of those nights when you ask yourself if much happened for the kingdom of God -- not much from a human point of view.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"Michael" in the hood

Ok so the Messiah turns out to live in the hood. I didn't know it.

He walked into the dispatch center last year -- in the fall (I don't want to wade through the archives -- in fact I can't remember what name I made up for him.) Anyway "Michael" had shown up in our shelter dispatch program at 11:30 -- an old lady in tow. We managed to get this grandma a place in one of the women's shelters for the night, while Michael pulled me aside to tell me he was the Messiah. I told him I thought what he meant was that he was a disciple. I encouraged him to come back during the day to visit me so we could talk some more about it.

I never heard from him until about three weeks ago.

He started showing up again -- he lives in an assisted living program nearby. We've been having these charming talks the past few weeks -- I try to cut through the mental illness stuff -- and focus on reassuring him that he is loved, that he's not beyond hope. He wanted me to hear his confession of all his sin -- going steadily forward from age 4 (stabbing a sibling with a pencil) to recent bad choices. Now I'm trying to get him to identify small steps he can take to help others, and live in the realization of being forgiven.

Mental illness and religion -- requirement or impediment? Kidding.

So, now we're on a schedule -- 4:00 Thursday our 30 mins together. It is manageable, and it keeps me on my toes. Pray for us.