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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The face of homelessness

Danny was a worker. He lived in the doorway of Operation Nightwatch. The weekend he was supposed to return home to the Tri-Cities, he got a phone call. "Never mind. Dad died."

Every night Danny would help me by mopping the floor, and helping to get the last guy out the door after midnight. Then he would lay out his sleeping bag on some cardboard. Night after night after night.

I know that homeless people are seen as useless, lazy, addicted, mentally ill, throw-aways. It's easy to think that way, if you don't know anyone personally. But I have found my un-housed friends to be charming, hard-working, weary, forth-right, and generous. Yeah, they got problems. So do I. So do you.

Why does it have to be such a stinking hard time to figure out basic shelter?

This week Operation Nightwatch has been running about 190 to 200 people served every night. Sunday night we ended up sending 27 people out into the rain with a Metro ride ticket and a blanket. Men and women.

Saturday night we got 8 guys into Saint Mary's Catholic Church. As I was driving away, I wondered why it is so hard to find 2 volunteers to spend one night a month hosting 8 homeless guys. Can you tell me why?

Just so you know. We deliver :) In case you want to start something at your church or synagogue.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Father Kim and his foreign language

Father Kim has been going on the street several times a month for the past 12 years.

Like many ministers, he is bilingual. He speaks Montanan English, and is also fluent in Episcopalian. This is very handy for me, because Free Methodists are poorly schooled in Anglican idioms.
Without Father Kim, I might never have known that a burse sits on top of the chalice, paten and veil, serves to hold a corporal and often hides an extra purificator.

I recently asked Father Kim about the letters "O.P." after a ministers name. He told me he'd check with with his "resident oblate."


Perhaps every family should have an oblate. I'm pretty sure I don't have an oblate at my house, unless someone's not telling me something, which is possible.

His oblate emailed. Apparently, O.P. is Latin for Ordo Praedicatorum. I figured it out. Can you?

Thank you, Father Kim. We have a lot of stories, you and I.