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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Passing of a friend

My friend June passed away today. I'm sad.

In the mid 1970s she decided the young adults at our local church had enough Sunday school. It was time go into action. So they organized "church" at Branch Villa Nursing Home in Seattle's Central District. Every Sunday morning, 9:00 am, instead of sitting around eating danishes and arguing some esoteric doctrine, we gathered 30 residents and sang old fashioned gospel songs with guitars, and sometimes with the piano stylings of a resident, Alta. One old vaudevillian would rise and sing solo. "Church in the Wildwood" might morph into "Pistol Packin' Mama." I stuck with it for 10 years, every week. Others continued even longer, all started by June.

One old Skid Road denizen was released back into a flea bag hotel. June found out where he was, and we took him a birthday cake. It was crazy fun. The guy was 70 and never saw anything like it. We passed out cake to eveyone coming through the lobby.

Long before I had any sense of my life's work, June would tell me, "Rick, you're on" and I would have to get up in front of these old people and bring some word of encouragement. I might go on for 4 minutes, but that was pushing it.

Dang it. Death is no good.


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