Sunday, June 10, 2012

To Walk the Brick Streets Part 5

Part Five and Final Part. Finally. :) ha! 

I thought I had maybe found the same seal water fountains that Bethany and I had stopped by to pray for Janeen, so I quickly went up the nearest cross street, getting excited that I had maybe found the same place.

No sight of Janeen.

She wasn't there. My heart sank. She had told us that sometimes she stands outside of Safeway. I didn't know where Safeway was, but I felt like I had seen one earlier. I asked a lady on the street; she seemed a little cold, protected. She was probably scared too, just trying to find her destination in the big city. And still, the sky was grey and the city was grey, and I felt like I was walking through the grey town in C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce.

There was still an uncomfortable fear following me around, but I tried to look people in their eyes, smile at them, say "Hello." My friend made fun of me for that later, but I think it might have helped. ;)

By this time, I was quite in need of a Water Closet (aka Bathroom), and I spotted a nearby MacDonalds. Outside the MacDonalds was a man I had seen earlier when I was with Bethany. He was an older man, missing teeth, white hair, and he asked, could you spare some change? And I said, I'm sorry, I couldn't, but what is your name?

"My name's Jeffrey."

"Good to meet you, Jeffrey! My name's danae."

And I shook his hand and entered MacDonalds. As I left, I turned back to Jeffrey, and asked him if he knew where Safeway was.

"It's a long ways  away. Too far to walk."

"But do you know where . . . okay.

"Jeffrey? Jesus loves you so much. Do you know Jesus?"

"Oh yes! Yes, I know Jesus. He's from Australia, and . . . "

Jeffrey went on about this Australian Jesus, and I wondered if maybe the drugs have gotten to him, poor man. Lord? Even if a man's head is so broken by the drugs he's tried to use to fix himself, can You still please come through? I won't lie; it seems so impossible. You are God of the Impossible. You love Him, don't You? Please, Jesus?

By this time, it was getting late. I headed in the direction of where I hoped Safeway would be. Nope. Negative.

The time was getting later. I needed to find a max station, head back. I found one pretty quickly in front of what I think might have been Pioneer Square(?). In front of the max station, a man was playing some sort of mandolin I think? I loved the music. I sat down, told him the music sounded beautiful, and waited for the max. In the square, I saw someone street preaching . . . very emphatically. It didn't look like it was accomplishing much. People came and went, and I met a man named Travis, a younger guy (in his thirties maybe?) with a pack on his back. We talked a little bit. He said he had a job and everything, just no place to stay. He didn't want to stay at the Homeless shelter . . . too many people. He needed his space. He needs Jesus. He later hopped on another max, as I anxiously waited.

But I met one more special person that night. She was a young lady, sitting near her guitar, and a sign that said it was her birthday, and she was just hoping for something good. She was nice as she said I could sit by her. I learned that her name is Spellina. She had white blond hair pulled back in two messy buns, and her left eye had some bruises under it. She talked slowly as she drank from her two liter pop bottle; she had a headache.

"Would you like a cookie?"  Her slow, somewhat raspy voice asked me. And I started to say No. The cookies had been store boughten, and I didn't want her to feel like I was above taking a cookie, so I took one and thanked her. Chewed slowly.  She has just turned twenty two as well, and I didn't realize how many girls my age called the streets their home and survived off of their cardboard sign messages and others' pity. I told her she was worth celebrating. I think she had kind of given up on that, or at least had different ideas of what celebrating meant. Eventually her boyfriend came by, and I wondered and worried about her eye. He seemed kind and gentle enough. I don't think he was the cause of it. Maybe.  But as the broken woman got up and left me alone there, she wrote on my heart, and God? Will You send someone else to her? Someone who will point her to You, to Love? She is not a hopeless case. Not with You, God. You know where she's at right now.

My parents called me as I waited still at the station and the time got later, and while I was embarrassed at my rash decision and that they had found me doing something pretty stupid in being alone in downtown Portland, about to ride the max at 8:30ish at night, I was so grateful for their destraction and felt that someone might be less likely to want to harm me if I was in a phone call? Y'all, at least I convinced myself. Ha! :) Well, we talked the whole ride home. (I asked them not to ask too many questions) I was a destracted listener, but when the max had to stop because of problems on the track, and we had to wait awhile, I was particuarly happy for them being a phone line away.

I finally made it back safe to my max station, and walked quickly through the dangerous street next to my school. I can't explain the relief I felt when I walked back onto Multnomah's campus. I felt so dirty from those streets, as if the smell of the peoples' drugs clung on my clothes. The grey listless city was a world away from the world I knew, and to come again into the world I knew shook me up. I lay down on the dorm room floor, still shocked by it all. The streets I walked were brick and broken, and the day sticks with me powerfully. These people were on my mind constantly the next few days, and I can still remember them so clearly.

I've gone back once since then . . . with one of my friends though. :) We never did find any of the people I met that day or Janeen . . . well, actually, I should say, we never talked to her. I saw a lady sleeping that looked like her, but we didn't wake her. It may not have been. Janeen is still so real. She is somewhere right now. She is doing something right now, feeling something, thinking something. God knows. I hope I meet all of those people in Heaven. Wouldn't that be a party? Wouldn't our feet just dance when they hit streets of gold? There will be no more cardboard signs, no more cruel, brick streets. Everyone who is a citizen of Heaven will be home and find a place in the Father's house. In the meantime, we cannot neglect those we do not understand. Open my eyes, Lord, please, to see people when I see the homeless. To see people when I see the drug addicts and the alcoholics. Use me, Jesus, to be love to this world. Use us. Maybe together, You might use us to call them to a place where You live and will love them forever. Forever Home.

Post Script:
Forgive me if I make this sound idealistic or if I sound like a saint for loving these people (this should be "ordinary" not out-of-the-ordinary as a Jesus-follower). I am a faulty lover, broken in myself; ask my family, friends. While it is easy to talk of love, to live it is so much more difficult. I struggle in loving, and I am learning that I must know God's love first . . . but that is a blog post for another time.

Please don't see me as the hero of this story. This story resulted from me doing something pretty foolish (though something I do not regret one bit). But God is love, and as a friend once said, He really does make all the difference. If He loves these people like He says He does (He does), maybe He will teach me what it means to love them from my heart . . . not just blog words. So be it, Jesus? Amen.

1 comment:

your mama said...

So glad that we have a huge, caring , loveable Jesus who knows the whole picture of this world with broken people and understands and loves them just as much as he does me when I mess up! I'm also so thankful He protects my children when they are out from my nest and I am out of reach or control! God is so good!