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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

To Turn

I am in marathon training, which means long runs on Saturday. Right now that means 10 – 14 miles.

Saturday I was feeling great, leaving Capitol Hill, through Northlake, into Fremont. I had in mind to run across the Ballard Bridge, to Nickerson, Westlake, Denny Way, and home. Maybe 13-14 miles.

But there was one Little Problem. I hadn’t really finished preparing my sermon for the next day. Acute mental functioning wasn’t going to happen after a 14 mile run. Happily, I recognized the error of my ways, and turned around, headed home.

That turn-around gave me something to think about.

In Hebrew, שוב . Usually translated repent, the word shub literally means to turn around.

It’s easy for me to run the wrong direction, or simply run too far ahead. If I’m paying attention, I stop and turn around. Recognizing the need to change direction, to change focus, can be tricky. Having resolve, we also need strength. It’s there, when we ask for it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What I'm working on . . .

Friday night, it's about a six minute drive to Operation Nightwatch from one of the most fabulous houses in the region, bar none. Beautiful house, filled with beautiful women, writing checks to support homeless sisters at Operation Nightwatch. They gave $20,000+ in two nights.

Meanwhile outside Nightwatch, it's 9:00 pm and homeless people have lined up to get a decent meal and a place to go for the night. It's an interesting transition.

I'm greeting people and shaking hands and answering questions.

Some young guy says, "If I'm already a believer, what's the next thing I should be working on?"

Learn how to love people. That's what I told him, and he told me he thought that was a good answer.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Forty years

1969. The Seattle Pilots were playing their first and only year of major league baseball at Sick's Stadium. "Here Come's the Brides" was playing on television (Bobby Sherman!) The tallest building downtown was the Smith Tower until the SeaFirst Building was completed later in the year.

1969 was the year that Rev. Norm Riggins put on a clerical collar and went out on the street at night for the first time with Operation Nightwatch.

Octogenarians usually take life easy. But ever since retirement, Norm and wife Bonnie have volunteered their time. He still has been going to bars to greet patrons and bartenders, she distributes socks and hygiene supplies to homeless people two nights a month.

It gives meaning to life, to care for folks. But now Norm is having trouble. He's a little unsteady on his feet. But I won't count him out. He will fight it. The passion and drive are still there. It's just. . . well, let's face it. The flesh is weak.

Forty years is a long time to stick with something.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

So long, Bill.

Bill went in the hospital two weeks ago. He thought it might be pneumonia.

Turned out to be something worse.

Last Wednesday he let it be known he wanted to be baptized. Thursday I talked with him about it.

Friday I went back. He confirmed his wish. So I baptized him while he lay in bed at Veteran's Hospital.

Bill liked being baptized. He smiled and said, "It's so easy!"

Very easy.

The next day I got a call from a neighbor. Bill was dead. Having made his peace, he simply let go.