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.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Touch of the Master's Hand at the Corner of Emerald and Somerset.

Last Saturday the poem "Touch of the Master's Hand" came to mind for no particular nor tangible reason.  I felt a strong urging to print it as one of my songs for distribution the following day.  I had done so maybe two years ago.  The next morning - this past Sunday - the same urge continued.  I printed it on one side of the song sheet and "Love Like This" by Lauren Daigle on the other side. 

I visited the people who are escaping the summer sun in the former Emerald City, the people of Ruth and Somerset and then the people on Emerald between Hart and Somerset.  And that's when the Touch of the Master's Hand quickly touched two men on the block.  One of those men was me and the other was a well-groomed and rugged, gentle-spirited Hispanic man who has always been kind.  He specifically requested a song sheet and without me asking him to do so, began to read out loud for others to hear the poem, "Touch of the Master's Hand." 

As he began to read, we were standing right at the corner of Emerald and Somerset.  He was facing the street.  My back was to the street.  With Spanish as his primary language in both speaking and reading, he began to read in English, pausing only a bit here or there to ask me how to pronounce a particular word.  

As he read, I listened and marveled at the privilege in my humble attempts in ministry that I was experiencing at that moment.  As he read, I looked up the block and saw our - yours and mine - misplaced suburban neighbors who are currently homeless and who have been bound with invisible chains to the streets by active substance use due to Substance Use Disorder and society's and Medicaid's inability to provide dignified health care to them. 

At this man's feet and about a yard behind him, Roman Catholic glass candle holders remained as the only items left from a memorial to the two men shot and killed right there in June.  The stuffed teddy bears and other cloth items that were once lovingly placed had been rained on and removed.  

It is in that setting that the Touch of the Master's Hand did in actual fact touch the hearts of anyone within earshot of this man's reading… 


Friday, August 14, 2020

A Time of Mental Rot

 

I have, just this morning, learned of the overdose death of a young man with whom I've had some interaction on the streets of Kensington.  He and I have several Facebook friends in common.  I'm deeply saddened as I learn of his passing.  

As I write this, I'm trying to find that balance of sharing with you my thoughts, honoring him and being sensitive to his family's agony.  This young man spent the last several months in local jails, was discharged, and overdosed within hours.  

Why Die? 

In the words of a woman of whom I've written here and as she unwittingly followed the same path: 

“This (time in jail)  is a time of mental rot.” 

“This process only builds up more resentment in people who are already dealing with resentment from the emotional traumas that got them here in the first place.” 

This woman went on to describe this time of mental rot… 

As a time of sitting in an oversized toilet stall  with no privacy around the toilet and sharing that toilet stall with some other woman she doesn't know, having two cots in that toilet stall with something that's supposed to resemble a mattress and one sheet to cover herself at night.  It is a time of little to no therapies and living inside one's own head and reliving the emotional traumas that escorted her into addiction and convincing herself more and more that she's just not worth it.  It is indeed a time of "mental rot."


Jail is no place for a patient of Substance Use Disorder to receive treatment for their condition.  

Detox and Rehab Facilities are designed for patients of Substance Use Disorder. 

Jails are designed for people guilty of a crime. 

Having Substance Use Disorder and behaving accordingly with active drug consumption should not be viewed as a crime worthy of jail but rather a condition worthy of appropriate treatment. 


If you, governmental leaders, insist on having medical patients of Substance Use Disorder residing in your jails, then you must provide the therapies that are needed so that your patient/inmate will be healed enough and have the resources so as not to be called back to their substance(s) and be dead within hours.

Much of this blog series looks at this topic.  A next blog to read that you may find helpful is this one:

This Week with Tabitha and Melanie

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Kensington - where life is real and love and care for each individual is thoroughly obvious and abundant

It's a hard thing to come home to an empty apartment after experiencing what I experience in Kensington some days.

Until you've been there, and by "there" I mean that section of Philadelphia that is 30 minutes away from us in Delaware County, you will never really understand what it's like to listen to and sing praise songs through my humble sound system with another Ministry person on the street as we look across a gathering of men and women who I know by name as they inject and sleep and smoke and dream of, in one particular case, heading to Kirkbride tomorrow morning so is to begin their detox and rehab and all new life.

As this scene was playing out, we were under the El, the elevated train line which runs down Kensington Avenue. On occasion, the sound of the train drowned out the playing of the praise music but that did not seem to matter. 

At one point I looked down the street as the praise music continued and I saw men and women who I know by name and story and others who I do not. I saw one man to whom I had provided Narcan months ago as he was assisting a woman with her injection into her neck. I turned my head to the right and looked down the street a little bit and saw the XXX video store which may or may not have been open at that moment. And the praise music continued.

I thought of how incredibly blessed I am to be permitted into the lives of these men and women who, for the most part, are not actually from Kensington. Almost everybody within eyesight of where this praise music was being played is from some other County and on occasion some other state.

For at least half an hour of this praise music time, I found myself sitting on the back of my open trunk with my feet propped up on my water cooler which had long since run out of its water as if the entire arrangement was my backyard lounge chair. The other Ministry person and I chose songs and played them through YouTube and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as various men and women came up, some to join us for a little bit, and others to ask for water or bananas or song sheets.

I'm sharing all this with you as I sit here in my living room in my humble apartment here in Concordville in hopes that maybe somebody in this area will be inspired and choose to become involved and maybe, just maybe, actually meet a neighbor with whom you went to high school here in Garnet Valley or with whom you have been involved in some group here in Glen Mills, or with whom you have shared some moments in Chester Heights.

If it seems to you that I am rambling on nonsensically it's because I don't know what else to say to inspire you to get involved with these men and women who are not they but rather extensions of us. I can think of no place that I would rather be than on the streets of Kensington where life is real and love and care for each individual is thoroughly obvious and abundant.