Sunday, July 31, 2011
The Park this morning
I don't like to write about the park, this may be the first time I have done so. Our faith community goes to the park on Sunday morning and shares our breakfast with a number of people that live in the park, or on the bluffs by the beach. Usually we sit for an hour or so with our friends, and we eat some egg burritos and hash browns, and enjoy some coffee and conversation. It is often uneventful, and predictable. We hear the same stories usually, the latino blokes are still looking for, and not finding work, those struggling with addictions to drugs or alcohol tell us of their run ins with cops or stories of panhandling, and usually we just have a quiet time.
This morning was a bit different. It started with a few new people that I hadn't met before, and that is always nice. And then a regular from day one, (almost two years ago) Dave showed up, but he moved far away when another gal showed up. They have been having tension lately. She started berating him about his hygiene, and he was telling me how sick of it he was. So I stood off to the side, with a man basically killing himself with alcohol, explaining to him that this woman actually harasses him because she cares for him. I don't think he understood, but just found that someone who was his friend, has now just become like everyone else looking down on him. I told him I would try and find him some clean pants, and he went to sit somewhere else.
Then someone else who we have never seen before came up, and was a bit of a jerk. But hey, being homeless, and addicted is not fun, and I get being grumpy. He was pissed off that the coffee was gone, but there was nothing I could do about that. As he walked away, he threw his burrito wrapper on the floor. I called to him, "hey bro, pick that up, you can't throw the wrappers on the floor" He pointed towards other trash in the park, and I said, "but that isn't ours, if you litter the cops can make us stop coming" and told me to F off and walked away "Well don't come back then til you learn to respect the breakfast" I received another F off as I was picking up his wrapper. He then reached into the trash can near him and threw trash onto the ground. I started walking towards him.
He turned and squared himself aggressively, "What are you gonna do?"
Now I am not gonna lie, I wanted to smack him around a bit. Some skinny tweeker living in the park is gonna step up to me? Do you know who I am? The inner violence really was burning, but instead I answered, "I am going to pick up after you" And I did. But as I walked back to the table I was shaking. Everyone said, to take a deep breath, "man, I got a little too much violence in me still" They asked what I said, and I told them, and we all had a good laugh. They said that guy was new to the park, and they would clue him in.
And then another of the alcoholics showed up. I hadn't seen him in months. He had been diagnosed with melanoma and looked bad. He told us that he was no longer in remission and had been at the hospital for 21 days. Apparently he left the hospital because they said he was refusing to follow hospital directions. His new doctor wouldn't let him go outside and have a smoke, and when he went anyways they discharged him. I guess they figured it was tough love but give me a break. They guy has cancer all over his body, he drinks all day long, he is homeless, his teeth are rotting out of his head, and you think quitting smoking is gonna help him? I talked to him for about fifteen minutes, then gave him a hardy handshake. Said good bye to everyone and headed home.
I encountered Jesus today, in various forms. One was very hard for me to love, I need God's love, as my own is just not good enough. God loves us not because we deserve it, but because it is his nature to love. Depending upon Christ, is depending upon that love, and hopefully I can learn to do that more and more, and destroy the violence that is in my heart.
Pray for my friends