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, April 21, 2006


Maybe because it's the week after Easter (at least for Western Christianity) I thought about resurrections I have witnessed. Walt is one.

He was drunk when I met him in line outside Operation Nightwatch ( but he said something no homeless guy had ever said in 20 + years on the street: "Pastor Rick, I've determined that never again in my life will I own a lawn mower."

The next day he stopped by my office, and I invited him to move into our building as a tenant. This led to three months of hell.

Now if you have never seen someone toxic from alcohol, it is not a pretty sight. Walt proceeded to get drunk every day, blowing out effluvia from both ends. I found him wandering the halls of the apartment building draped in a towel, covered with BM from his head to his feet. And the smell cannot be described. We determined to clean out his room while he was in the hospital (he gave his drunken permission when the fire department hauled him away.) The load of excrement and carpet/furniture/mattress was so bad I had tears in my eyes tying down the tarp along the side of a windy freeway. Ok, enough grossness.

What happened next is also beyond description, a total God thing. Walt fell and broke his back.

He went off to Swedish Hospital, spent 30 days in traction and detoxed at the same time. He came back to a different unit in our building, a changed man. That was 6 years ago.

I had not heard from Walt in a few months (he had moved from our building into several different great places) and I was getting worried; I called his last housemate and his workplace to see if he was still ok.

So last night Father Kim and I started our night on the street with a visit to Walt's place in Ballard.

He looked amazing, and his apartment is really stylish. Hard to believe it's the same guy. He's working, keeping really busy with driving for a food bank, volunteering for Homeland Security duties with the Coast Guard Auxilary, an ambassador at the Woodland Park Zoo, and other interests.

When I am in a church that recites the Apostle's Creed ( and get to "I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body," I always will think of the resurrection of Walt.

Once you get a taste of that, you want more!

There's so much more I could tell from last night -- first night with two Fuller Seminary students, renewing friendships at My Favorite Queen Anne Bar after my three week layoff, and finally got the name of someone there I've talked to many times -- I'll call him Minor Prophet. Anyway, a good night, and home before one a.m. Blessings, Rick


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