Friday, August 1, 2008

Pioneer Square

Earlier this week I met Rebecca. She was huddled under the entryway of a Quizznos with some cardboard boxes to make up a mattress and a Bartell's reusable bag as a pillow. I had emerged from a comfortable studio where a friend of mine, Thomas Starks, was recording his newest album. I had spent the late-afternoon hanging out, eating M&Ms, Jelly Bellys and downing water bottles of water (I was feeling a little dehydrated). So, when I climbed up the stairs to street level and Thomas introduced me to Rebecca my night was turned upside down. See, Thomas had befriended Rebecca twenty minutes prior and immediately was at her service. He gathered a muffin, water and Excedrin and did not stop there. When Rebecca mentioned the need of a blanket, Thomas responded with a blanket and a pillow. As we got to talking to Rebecca we learned that it was not easy to find food in Seattle because shelters have funny hours and are scattered around the city. We also learned that most shelters cater to men, and with so many men around sometimes she felt intimated and vulnerable. When Thomas and Malissa, it was Malissa's blanket and pillow that Thomas handed over, started asking about womens' shelters in the Seattle area Rebecca answered that there are a few, but the main one is controlled by a demoness. For the next five minutes or so Rebecca started to reveal her faith in God and her fear of the demons and demonesses that she sometimes saw and felt around the city. An example of this was the woman who had control over the women's shelter. In consequence, Rebecca did not like going over there for food. Shortly after, Rebecca explained that she was viciously abused as a child and now, also, has a mental illness. Her mental illness does not discredit her fears, but it explained a lot about her and what she was saying.
I am sure that in some ways we blessed Rebecca that night, but in all actuality she probably will not remember us. Rebecca said that part of her mental illness is amnesia, so "probably" is probably an understatement. But, as I was sitting on the edge of her cardboard mattress, listening to her stories, and her fears, and her hopes, and her aspirations, I found myself on the verge of tears. Those tears never spilled out because I was head deep in prayer. Prayer that I had not felt in over a year. Over two years, actually. As Malissa and Thomas headed back down the stairs into the studio, I sat with Rebecca a little longer. I handed over my jacket and asked her if I could pray with her. As I grabbed her hand and started thanking God for her, I realized I will never know what she really needs, but I could offer the one thing I knew had power-- prayer. So the first two things Rebecca did for me that night was that she humbled me in a way that has not been done in quite a long time, and she helped me remember the art of praying. Now, forgive me for the tangent, but two nights ago a friend of mine called. He had just gotten back from Bosnia and was recapping a few parts of his trip for me. He briefly touched on the hopelessness of the people he encountered. He said that the hopelessness of the Bosnian people was similar to the hopelessness of the homeless he had met here in the States. My mind raced back to Rebecca. As Rebecca was sharing what it was like to be homeless, she said that she loves the morning because every morning she gets to smile and say, "Good morning, Lord" and then go through the rest of the day. Sure, Rebecca was not too willing to hold a job so she could maybe get into that little room she hoped to have some day, but, shoot, when was the last time I woke up smiling saying, "Good morning, Lord." Rebecca is much more hopeful about the beginning of the day then I ever am. That's one of the other things Rebecca showed me that morning: I am not thankful for my life in the way that I ought to be and I rarely acknowledge God in the morning. Oh, and I really am not a morning person.
So to you, whoever is reading this, I hope you meet a Rebecca. A person that may never remember you, but you will always remember her face and all that she was able to teach you in one short meeting. I hope that you are able to meet a Rebecca that will turn your every-day-normal-activities upside down and remind you of what it is exactly you are passionate about; to break your heart all over again and prepare you to go out and be more gracious, more giving, more loving and more accepting. Thank you Rebecca for energizing me back into my broken hearted buzz. I am ready to turn this world upside down. Again.

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