Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

What if...? Answer: Clean

Of the ten to twelve homeless and addicted men and women, I've been getting to know, I've seen a pattern with most of them.  

  • David and Autumn, for example, have been on the streets so long that to call them homeless, I'm not sure is correct.  The streets are their home.  They have a system for sleeping behind this dumpster or that bush.  They go to work on this street corner or that avenue intersection depending on their knowledge of the flow of traffic for that particular hour.  They are known by locals and get food, clothes, and money from passers-by and some who stop to converse.
  • There are others, too many to count and name, who offer a service such as the doorman at Wawa or the window washer who circulates among several shopping center parking lots.
  • There are others who stroll about with a shopping cart or wagon and collect metal things to take to the metal thing place (shows how much I know) for redemption into cash for their life and habit.
  • And then there is Mickey.

Mickey sits and waits for someone to give her change.  When she's not high, she can carry on a reasonable conversation.  Once she's gathered $10.00, she walks several blocks to make her next drug purchase near the tracks.  She walks back high to where she sits and waits for her next $10.00 interval of change.  When she's high, she's quiet and offers very limited conversation - going so far as to tell me she's high and can't talk now.

Readers of this blog series will know that I've distributed sandwiches with Mickey one Sunday and taken her to Episcopal Hospital where they gave her Narcan due to a mild case of overdose the following Sunday.  I saw Mickey borderline unconscious that second Sunday and beyond exhausted on several other days.  

Mickey has shared with me how frightened and alone she feels out on the streets and yet is not ready to make changes.

I saw Mickey last Sunday.  She was fully communicative so I knew she was not high.  She told me that she had not slept at all in a couple days.  She looked exhausted as any human being would with such an extreme lack of sleep.  I told her that I had some clothes and supplies for her that she might want.  We walked to the back of my Uplander where these items were as I was parked under the watchful eye of Rite Aid's security camera.  Mickey sat on the bumper of the open hatch and started looking through the things I had for her (and others).  Sleep was quickly overtaking her.  

She asked if she could just close her eyes for a bit.  I agreed and she leaned back on the back floor of my minivan.  "While you're resting Mickey, I'd like you to listen to a song on YouTube."  "Okay," she said.  I pulled up Natalie Grant's song "Clean" and began to play it for Mickey.  A hint of quivering chin and a drop of tear began just before Mickey's face relaxed into the sleep of utter exhaustion.  

I continued the song as I looked at Mickey's relaxed face and prayed for her and all the exhausted addicted men and women who are on the streets and who feel frightened and alone.  I prayed that she and they would one day understand the words of the song:

I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You're helping me to believe
You're restoring me piece by piece
There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
What was dead now lives again
My heart's beating, beating inside my chest
Oh I'm coming alive with joy and destiny
Cause You're restoring me piece by piece
There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean

For the next 90 minutes that Mickey slept in the back of my van with her feet hanging out the open hatch (under the watchful eye of the security camera in this public parking lot during the day), I prayed for God's wisdom on what could be done for human beings such as Mickey...  No one person and no one church can solve the entire issue of homeless addiction.  There are Faith-based and secular organizations that provide many services.  That's fine....
What if...  Just what if, every or half of the churches in the area searched for one homeless addicted person to come alongside and minister to in depth?  What would happen?  I'm not proposing any of the how to's other than saying minister in depth to one and see what happens to that one...
What if...

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