Friendship, food, happiness, and health
Henry walked by and didn’t recognize me. I remind him that we prayed last week and tell him that I have some socks and PB&Js. “Oh yeah, I am starving.” It’s going to dip down into the low forties tonight and the homeless community is preparing. Henry sleeps in a doorway and feels safe except for when drug addicts try to rob him. I ask if there is anything I can keep in my prayers for him. “Friendship, food, happiness, and health!” I love praying with homeless people at the bus stop. It always makes God smile. The strange looks we get from people leaving CrossFit are equally delightful! I wonder what people think when they see me holding hands and praying with a person everyone is trying to avoid. Prayer communicates care. Henry walks across the street and yells a hearty thanks.
There are three of my friends are sitting on the sidewalk by Starbucks. Martin is a guitar player and I tune his acoustic that’s missing a string. He plays slide guitar with a travel size vodka bottle and we have an instant connection. He is nostalgic about past relationships, wishing he could go back in time. “If I knew then what I know now …” He spots Dorothy, my coworker’s puppy and I am instantly old news. Crawling over to Dorothy on his hands and knees they become fast friends. There is a gentleman lying on the ground. He is the drunkest I have ever seen anybody in my life. He looks like my friend Little Rabbit, but I’m not sure. His level of intoxication has altered everything, even his physical appearance. “Is that you, Little Rabbit?” It is and he’s overcome with shame and guilt. His addiction has set his plans for housing back again. We always pray when we chat, and this time is no different. Kneeling, I ask him what he would like prayer for. I put my hand on his shoulder and tell him that God loves him. That God loved him first and that there is no shame or guilt for those who are in Christ. He grabs my shoulder and squeezes. I think he assumed we were going to pray about the demon of booze tempting him, about the right path and good choices. The presence of God and his love are so thick you could eat it with a spoon. We all need to know the hope of God’s love. Little Rabbit already knows he needs to quit drinking.
My coworker introduces me to Dante. Dante is a sweet, soft-spoken man in his 60s. He has an interesting street hustle as a self-appointed doorman. He stands in front of a restaurant and opens the door for guests. Sometimes people give him a dollar. Everyone says thank you. I have some gloves and extra shirts in my bag, and he is appreciative. Our conversation turns to God, church, and baptism. He was baptized in Atlanta by Martin Luther King Jr.’s sister. Dante was forever changed when he heard God’s voice on the phone. He was in the hospital and heard a gospel song while he was on hold. The song’s lyrics were “I will always be with you and never forget you.” Our eyes get watery sharing with each other how God has changed our lives. He was shot at seven times at point blank range, walking away unharmed. My testimony about miraculous sobriety puts us on the same level. I tell him about how much I used to play the guitar at church. Without missing a beat Dante smiles and reminds me that “even God took a rest!” Preach, sir, preach. I ask him if he wants to pray. If he wants to pray for me. He doesn’t like to pray out loud, so I babble onward and upward. We part ways with a big hug, and I am overjoyed. I thank God for friendship, food, happiness, and health!