My friends on the street treat me with such kindness. It is so moving when someone who is mentally ill and living in a tent asks me how my day is going. Gloria always wants to know if I have watched the movie Maximum Overdrive. She thinks my son will love it. A classic 80’s Stephen King film with AC DC music, Emilio Estevez tank tops, and machines destroying the world. What’s not to love. Declaring, “God is a bad ass,” Gloria is a street theologian, and a good one at that. She tells me that Jesus protects her from sorcery and witchcraft. She is aware that her drinking is destructive and ultimately killing her. She tells me that sometimes, “sin feels good while it’s happening”. I agree and we both laugh. We talk for a good long while. We pray for freedom from addiction and shame. She tells me that she doesn’t have any shame just regret. Respectful of my time, she asks if I need to get going and thanks me for listening to her. Everyone feels honored when they are heard.
William has been out of work because of the pandemic. He was a bar back and bouncer at a sex/bondage nightclub. He tells me that he misses the work but is glad to not be there anymore. “It was kind of my scene and kind of not.” We discuss the connection between internalized trauma and unhealthy expressions of love. William is a rape survivor and agrees with me that healing is a slow miracle. Such a tender, vulnerable moment shared on the street.
Several times on Monday night my friends on the street asked to pray for me. I received prayers of appreciation, safety, and protection. Brian thanked God for me because it gives him hope knowing that people are out making sure he is alive. His faith in humanity is renewed when people stop and say hi to him. He also asked me for a five-person tent, a generator, razors, and hydrogen peroxide. One time he asked me if I had a van he could have. The Bible does say ask, seek, and knock!
I am speechless when people who live under the freeway, are thoughtful enough to ask me how my Christmas was. Humility and honor seem to be the same thing. Mellissa and I prayed for God to provide for our daily needs. She thanked God for her boyfriends continued success in anger management and for the high heeled shoes she found at the gas station. We talked about our sobriety and she prayed the serenity prayer over me. I cry thinking about her roller covered head poking out of her tent. She asks me how the hair rollers look and is excited that she found them in the garbage. All I can say is beautiful. We receive courage, strength, and wisdom when we “honor everyone (1 Peter 2:17).”