It's 2 a.m. on Friday morning and I cannot sleep. I'm thinking about last night's visit (Thursday, March 22, 2018) to Emerald City. Every once in awhile there is a definite theme to my visit to Emerald City and the other surrounding bridge communities of people. Last night's theme seems to be, of all things: Catholic Women!
I'm going to share these three short stories with you in the order that they happened.
I've learned a lot about addiction and homelessness from Natalie as we have had various discussions and as I have witnessed her life over these months. As I reference at the very top introduction of this blog series, from time to time I change the gender of the person in the story as well as the name so as to help maintain the highest level of privacy. Natalie has actually been written about far more times than what is obvious. Keep in mind that Natalie is not her real name.
I saw Natalie last night and shared with her the possibility of a wonderful program to help her get her life put back together in the ways that she has told me she wants it to be. Natalie is a brilliant young woman and a deep thinker with a deep Faith that is very buried under her current lifestyle. Hanging over Natalie's head is a jail sentence for a situation that goes far beyond explanation in this blog. Suffice it to say that Natalie has a big decision to make. She can go to a very specific detox and rehabilitation program or she can go to jail. The mysterious power of addiction, that none of us on the outside of addiction can possibly understand, has her wondering what to do.
Diane cries as she thinks about doing what she feels she must do to raise funds for her addiction that she despises. Each and every time she references what she needs to do, she tears up and refers to such moments as leaving to go humiliate herself.
This young lady is something of a fine porcelain doll in appearance. She appears as though she could be easily broken. Her lifestyle requires her to be on guard for her own physical safety at all times. She carries a knife and has had to threaten to use it a few times as 'men' have tried to do unspeakable things to her.
About a week ago one of the students from the Studies in Urban Ministry Program at Urban Hope Church gave me a Christian book called Jesus Calling for me to give to a specific person within Emerald City. I knew Diane would love this book. I found her about an hour later. When I handed it to her and she saw the title, tears ran down her cheeks. She knows how much her Lord loves her.
The 3rd Catholic woman is a brilliant and fun to chat with poet with a deep and natural smile. "Emily" is by far the most discreet person in Emerald City. The activities of her life that are trying to hold her there are activities that I don't think I've ever actually seen her do. I've told her a time or two that I can't figure out why she's there. Emily reads these blogs which gives me a unique opportunity to sometimes speak directly to her here.
Last night you shared with me something about you and God. In the course of that conversation, all of the elements of what has become known as the traditional prayer of confession and acceptance of Our Lord were found in our conversation. And so I tell you my good Catholic school friend, I know that our Lord is working on bringing you healing. Our Lord wants the absolute best for you. I am very thankful for that conversation and all of the interactions that we have had. I am looking forward to seeing how our Lord is going to guide you and bring you into something new and rich and exciting. I'll see you Sunday!
Eight days ago that determination bloomed into action. Later today I will pick him up to leave for a detox facility far from The Temptations of Kensington. It is an absolute privilege to come alongside Bob in his moment of action and to provide whatever support I can as he moves into this new life.
UPDATE: As of 3/23/18, Bob is no longer a resident of the streets of Kensington. His new life has begun!
For people who have been on the street in this lifestyle for a length of time, the whole idea of detox and rehab can actually be a frightening thought. Some people say that they don't know how to be normal anymore. I've heard this comment from men and women.
It has been an incredible privilege to come alongside these three women who often fear for their lives on the streets of Kensington for reasons that are unique to women on these streets. The men of Kensington face other dangers and many of them have shared those concerns with me as well.
Please pray for all of these people.
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