To get from Point A to Point B, you must move.
At this moment, as I write this, I am living in a pit.
I am homeless.
I face a choice: do I want to get out, or stay here?
Continue reading Work
At Christmas, Christians celebrate the event in which they say God became a human being.
Without this event, according to traditional Christianity, there would be no salvation, and no hope for you and me.
What is called “incarnational theology” tells us that Jesus’ power to save and competence to save both derive from the incarnation — God’s having become a human being.
By virtue of the incarnation, God obtained first-hand experience of everything we human beings have to deal with — all the trials and tribulations we go through from day to day. In Jesus, God came face to face with physical suffering, pain, bitter cold and burning heat; hunger, anger, lust and love. The Bible does not tell us all the details of Jesus’ life, but I am convinced he went through it all. There is no circumstance you can come into, that he hasn’t faced. Thus he can be present to you, no matter what your circumstances.
In the spiritual (emotional) world also, there is nowhere Jesus hasn’t been. He can be present to you no matter where you “go” emotionally.
God is with you and for you at all times.
(Originally posted 12/25/13.)
The mission principally serves two groups.
First (in too many ways) are the “clients,” 450 men enrolled in the 12-month residential drug-and-alcohol treatment program; for which reason they are commonly called “programmers.” Each of them has a permanently assigned bunk and some form of closet space, and can use the mission as a mailing address.
I need to keep in mind that, but for the program, most of them would be homeless.
Second (in too many ways) are the “guests,” no more than 60 homeless men on any day, who are provided accommodations overnight; for which reason we are commonly called “overnighters.” We must vacate the premises no later than 6:00 a.m. daily, cannot leave anything behind, and cannot return until 3:00 p.m. We cannot use the mission as a mailing address.
Note the distinction between “clients” and “guests.”
At the end of the work day one day last week, I walked toward the parking lot carrying my two heavy bags. Programmer W____ P__ came toward me, walking in the opposite direction, and said, “Bill, you look like you’re taking off for the weekend!”
I said to myself, even programmers don’t get it.
He can take off for the weekend; I can’t. I have nowhere to go and nowhere to come back to.
The way he saw me is the way I look all the time.
At work on Tuesday 05/08/12, the radio station they had on the PA played Genesis’ “Giving it all away.”
People see things different ways given their personal circumstances.
I know nothing about Phil Collins personally. But in all likelihood, were he to “give it all away” as he understands it, he would probably have a lot left.
All I own is the contents of two heavy bags. Giving it all away would be a simple gesture. And afterwards, I would have nothing.
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That afternoon, as usual, as soon as I got to my bunk I sat down and got out my medications for the evening. The guy assigned to the bunk above me was a newcomer, real clean-cut, a Jake Pavelka lookalike.
“Got any goodies in those pill bottles?” he asked.
“No,” I answered.
“It’d been cooler if you’d said yes,” he said.
As usual, I put my meds back in my zipper bag when I finished, and, as usual, I locked it.
Because of guys like him.
(Originally published 05/09/12 at Trojan Horse Productions. Reposted 10/30/13, 12/29/16.)
talk show host, on air talent, radio talk show, the homeless blogger
(Originally posted 12/23/13.)
In the past, I’ve seen many print ads that use the word “aromatherapy.” They seemed to me only to be selling fragrances, and I didn’t see the point of using that word.
Light endorses the Bach Flower Remedies. I’m skeptical.
From a flyer announcing a presentation tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Enoch Pratt Free Library:
Record unemployment and rampant corporate greed, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunitites in a paralyzed nation — these are the realities of America, land of the free and home of the new middle-class poor.
In The Rich and the Rest of Us, award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading public intellectuals, take on the “p” word — poverty. They challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it is and how to eradicate it.
I cannot attend that presentation, even if I wanted to, since as of 3:00 p.m. I must head back to the shelter to stay in for the night.
I know little about Cornel West and nothing about Tavis Smiley, but I do know something about poverty. I do not believe it can be eradicated. Thus any analysis that supposes that it can, is mistaken at its core.
Dan Rodricks complained that a recent Baltimore City ordinance on panhandling failed to address “the underlying issues.” He has failed to address them either; so, I thought I would. Here are those I personally see:
|✓||TREATMENT ON DEMAND. Drug and alcohol treatment needs to be available on demand. This doesn’t affect me personally, but does affect panhandling — and prostitution, petty theft, shoplifting, smash-and-grabs, larcenies, and in fact all crime of any type. It’s not just traffic fatalities — half of all crimes are committed while someone is either intoxicated or seeking drug money. Continue reading (2) Obstacles to my prosperity|
… which shall here remain nameless, for reason that I also have harsh criticisms and don’t need any reader, however well-intentioned, to draw me into controversies not of my own choosing. The administration is rigid and authoritarian, and if I ever need to ask a favor it’s best I not be seen as a troublemaker.
I had ample time to prepare for homelessness. I packed up all my stuff neatly to make it easy for the landlady to dispose of. I gave away practically everything of durable value — dumbbells, tools, kitchen utensils, foodstuffs. Angie wanted to keep the bird feeder going after I would leave, so I showed her how. I was able to ask around and find out the highest-rated men’s homeless shelter in town. I went there at once when I became homeless March 7, 2011, and except for three nights, have been there ever since.
Continue reading (1) I stay at the best shelter on the East Coast
Proverbs 30:15: “The leech has two daughters. Their names are ‘Gimme’ and ‘Gimme.’”
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Saturday 05/12/12, 3:00 p.m. — I tired today of strangers asking me for things when I was on smoke breaks out in front of the library.
Other homeless guys have talked with me about this in the past, expressing similar frustrations.
People talk about “What goes around comes around,” but when it comes to this stuff, I don’t see it. In my years in the ’hood (Barclay area, 2006-2011) I got the definite impression that it’s always the exact same individuals asking, asking, asking, and the “blessing” never gets passed on, nor do they ever give back.
They’ll bleed you dry.
Continue reading Gimme
(Originally posted 10/25/2013.)
For years, I had the mantra: “Most panhandlers aren’t homeless, and most homeless people don’t panhandle.”
Now I have many acquaintances who do one or the other.
Given recent instability in my support system, I myself may soon become one who does both.
My experience is much informed by what I’ve seen at the McDonald’s I frequent at Baltimore and Light Streets, where some people seem to panhandle outside all day long.
Continue reading The new panhandling controversy in Baltimore