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, June 23, 2015

Who should we ignore?

Things were going to be rough, I knew it.

It was late, and my friend "Saul" needed a visit. his whole life has been one gigantic struggle. Blind at birth, abandoned by family, raised in foster care, turned loose in the world at 18. Saul is afflicted with mental health and alcohol issues.

My co-minister tonight had never met Saul. I tried to warn him.

A the door, Saul was wearing the exact same clothes as the last time I saw him -- maybe five weeks ago. I flipped on the light, and the cockroaches scattered. Fifty beer cans were strewn across the floor. It was as bad as I've seen things in fifteen years of being Saul's friend.

It would be easy to ignore Saul and his mes. But it occurred to me: Jesus didn't turn his back on anyone. Who would Jesus ignore?

That process of marginalizing people, of saying that certain people don't matter, is at the root of the human problem. It dehumanizes all of us. It leads to chaos and murder like we witnessed, inflicted on our brothers and sisters in a Bible study in Charleston.

We must care for the marginalized in our communities.  Please don't turn away.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Jumping Jehosephat!

I was complaining to Jim about not remembering names. He's a homeless camp member. He says, "You should use adjectives, like 'Jumping Jim'"

"Great idea!" I tell him. I'm looking around at the other campers. "Mad Max, Dizzy Dean, Loud Lily." They look at my companion, Greg. Everyone thought for a moment, and one of the campers suggests "Grateful Greg."  This was a God-moment.

On the way to the camp, my friend Greg had said how completely grateful he had been feeling lately, thank to his new approach to living, and the opportunity to express care for others through the work of Nightwatch.

Now, what are the chances of that? A Word for the night.

Weaving and Bobbing

At five minutes to midnight, the last customer comes in the door, sporting a 3-day-old black eye."Montoya, you see a doctor for that yet?" Kevin asked. "Oh yeah, it's all right," Montoya assures us.

"Montoya, were you weaving and bobbing?" Kevin persists. "Yeah man, I was weaving, for sure. But I didn't do any bobbing."

"You got to bob, bro."

At midnight, we're all out on the sidewalk, and Montoya is still hanging around, happy for a few moments of peaceful conversation before heading off for shelter. He looks at me with his one good eye. "You gave me your card," he reminded me.

Of course. I remember you Montoya. The first night Deacon Sam was on the street with us, we put our hands on you at your request, and prayed for wisdom and strength.

Got to remember that, when you're weaving and bobbing through life. Or at least, weaving through life.