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, August 19, 2013

Lauds and Compline

I walk in the heavy morning air of mid-August,
     suffocating, yet elated.
Despite my awkward old-age heaviness,
    exhilaration exudes  from the marrow.
A good Creator has,  despite my contrariness,
     granted a new day.
So I walk, in gratitude,
      singing to myself the hymns of my childhood.
I conclude with the remembrance, long dormant,
            of an obscure fourth verse. So satisfying!
Then, I detect a fellow walker,
            emitting an indistinct sound from some device.
“How dare he infringe my worship with his din?”
Then, I draw closer, and the noise resolves
                                                      into Gospel.
Tempo, chords, and composition, are foreign
           yet the same good Creator
                     is praised, with joy and power.
And so for a quarter mile, I lurk
                           within worshipful distance.
We meet by and by.
So sweet.
My new brother, Solomon.

Late that same night, world-weariness presses down the old preacher.
Yes, there is still joy, but the feet are sore and the bed beckons.
“Just a bit further. The time for resting is not yet.”
In a dim shelter, residents fill my ear with stories
     of logging, and methadone programs, and favorite authors.
Yes. It is as random as it sounds.
Then, bursting in,
                 a new, angry friend,
like a prophet, but all noise,
                       never resolving into Gospel.
Dramatic confusion born out of hurts
--  personal and tribal --
  he quotes myriad unrelated scriptures without  understanding.
And yet, there is something loving and lovable
     about a man who bears the burden of a daddy shot by drug dealers,
      and the desire to make sense out of the inhumanity and cruelty
                        poured out on a race for generations.
I can do nothing about the slave trade. Nothing about the drug dealers.
Nothing about the hurt and pain he experiences daily.
Nothing but love.
I can hope that when the Morning comes,
  and this long night is over,
                John will be my brother too.