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.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Let them eat CAKE

Maybe it was my weekly trip to Tent City 3, currently located in Shoreline, at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 145th and 20th NE.
It was pouring rain. I had delivered a load of Nightwatch socks.
Despite the crummy weather, the TC3 residents offered me cake. It looked pretty good sitting there in the food tent. I don't really need the calories.
It was fun to see people walking around in the rain, eating their choco cake.
I remember a community meeting near Nightwatch several years ago. It was a bit tense in those days. People weren't sure what it was going to mean having Nightwatch in the their neighborhood. Were the old people going to be bothered? Were residents going to have petty crime? Were property values going to drop? Were neighborhood businesses going to suffer? All of these things were in mind.
They gave me 30 minutes to make my case. I was my usual passionate self, then I took questions.
From the back row, a younger man raised his hand.
“A few years ago, I was homeless,” he said. “I remember coming to Operation Nightwatch when they were located downtown.”

“I walked in the door the first night, and a volunteer handed me a piece of cake. I couldn’t believe it. They got cake! And I knew I was going to be okay. Now I have my own place. But I’ll never forget – they had cake.” His face glowed as he remembered the moment.
The tension in the room evaporated. People laughed at the way he said it. Such a big deal. But for him, the surest sign that God was watching out for him in his darkest hour was this sign of abundance -- a piece of cake, lovingly served up by a Nightwatch volunteer.
So. This morning at Bryn Mawr United Methodist, I told this story, which I don't think I've ever told anyone before. The gospel lesson: Jesus feeds the 5,000. God evidently cares about the things we need every day. Food. Shelter. Belonging. In these things we are not separated from each other. Homeless people are no different than the rest of us.
After church -- we all ate cake together. It was GREAT!



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