Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

September 25, 2007

Dirty showers

Filed under: christianity,Homelessness,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 4:51 pm

Cussing. Lots of cussing, including the big bombs. Drinking. Just a beer each, though. Good food. Pot roast, broccoli casserole, rolls, sweet tea…mmm. Dirty shower. Filth, smell, and dirt running down our shower drain. Relaxing. Sitting on couches, on our rocker chair, chilling to music, enjoying the a/c.

That was our house last night. Amanda and me and Steve and Allen. Two guys I found in Hillsboro Village. Homeless. Amanda and I got a roast at Costco that was too big for us and ended up cooking tons of other food too, so we decided to invite people over. Then we decided to be literal on the Luke 14:12 verse. (On searching for this verse, apparently others in Nashville have done the same!)

When I said Hi to Allen, he asked me to help him out with a bus ticket, but was happy to accept an offer for a free meal instead. Then we drove around looking for a couple others who might want to take up the offer too. And found Steve, passed out on a bench beside Pancake Pantry. Cussed out Allen when he woke him up and told him not to pull on his clothes or touch his radio. Made sure there were no dogs under all the stuff in my car, which was entirely possible with all the junk in my backseat, then slouched in and we took off. By the time we got there 10 minutes later, Steve was asking “where in the hell” we were.

Both veterans, now homeless. Yet Steve was still proud enough to show me his veterans ID card. Admitted later that the government has completely failed to give him the help he needs, and that “things will never change” even with a change in the administration. Somewhere in their 40’s or 50’s…hard to tell. I haven’t seen Allen before. But Steve is known to be the Hillsboro Village drunk. He’s passed out in front of stores before and they call the police to remove him so they can open for business. I’ve never said Hi to him before. But tonight he was just our guest for dinner. Steve and Allen were hilarious the way they fought with each other playfully, called each other brothers (may have meant in the military, not sure), and told stories of everything from catching a deer doped up and leaned up against a tree after eating three of his marijuana plants to throwing a 6 foot alligator in a game warden’s boat in the Florida swamps. True? Heheh, don’t care, funny :)

While Amanda was setting dinner out (ok, I usually help with the cooking and serving, so don’t think we’re that type of couple or that I’m that type of male, ha) I sat with Steve and Allen. Asked them if they wanted a Budweiser beer (had a couple I needed to discard), to which Allen replied “Do bears live in the forest?”. Then we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner…a huge pot roast that had been cooking for over 24 hours with carrots, onions, and potatoes. And I mentioned the broccoli casserole. Rolls. Several of those things were dumpstered, by the way. Then after eating we sat back down on the couches to relax some more. Steve especially enjoyed the floor rocking chair with music playing from the speakers that are on either side of your head. He said it was better than sex.

Allen tinkered on the guitar, I played my harmonica to the Piano Man, and Steve still rested on the couch, shoes and socks off. Even before we got to the house, he asked if he could take his shoes off. Evidently he has diabetes and his feet are often asleep. He talked to them a couple of times, quietly and to himself, telling them to wake up. Finally Steve said he’d love to take a shower but he didn’t have any fresh clothes. So he’s now wearing one of my t-shirts I got from a dance weekend, and he feels as fresh and clean as I do. He was mumbling to himself the whole time…things like how much dirt and mud was coming off. I could tell he enjoyed it thoroughly. Said it took 3 times to wash all the dirt out of his hair.

Then we listened to some more music, sat around a little more, they thanked Amanda over and over again for the delicious meal, and I took them back home. Their home. Which is somewhere in Nashville, back to an empty bench, or a spot of grass. Steve, still stumbling slowly around with his dumpstered and duck taped yellow radio, and Allen, saying bye to Steve and taking off in a different direction. Both of them probably going to try and get some money to buy some liquor for the night…a lot cheaper sleep medication than Lunesta.

I hope they slept well. I hope they had a wonderful time and felt welcome in our home. I hope that we didn’t encourage bad behavior by giving each of them a beer and not stopping their cussing. I hope that Steve feels fresh and clean this morning and enjoys my All-Balboa Weekend dance shirt. I hope that someone else will give them a cup of cold water and they will feel loved.

I hope that somehow things WILL change for the chronic homeless in the states.

Until then, maybe Jesus is glad that we entertained strangers and invited those who can’t repay us. Or maybe Jesus was there, as in what he said about the least of these. If so, I hope he enjoyed the shower.

-d

* I realize that I tend to write things in story form, and to write with too much creativity and maybe too much emotions. And I feel like I’m not a good enough writer to attempt “I hope” paragraphs like the one in Shawshank Redemption. :) I just wanted to write down memories of last night and share them. Now, I want to discuss the events. Amanda’s going to blog about how difficult it is not to stereotype, and I want to continue talking about things I wonder about last night. Is it ok to share a beer to someone who has a chronic problem with homelessness or even alcoholism. It might seem obvious, but maybe our goal of having someone over one night wasn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t be to start working on their destructive behaviors. Maybe it’s just to make a friend, to welcome someone into our home as they are, and worry about the problems a little later. I think Amanda was smart in asking me to limit it to one beer each. But I don’t claim to have made the right decision on that. And I want to discuss the logistics of doing this more often. Does it become something we do often? At different houses? Different hosts? Just brainstorming. Please feel free now to add your harsh criticism or comments. ;) Peace.

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4 Comments »

  1. I don’t know the ins and outs of how that should work, but this story made me smile this morning. I’m so proud of both of you for boldly exploring the words of Christ even beyond what our society usually accepts. I hope that, should I ever come back to live Stateside, I won’t forget the least of these.

    And really what’s one beer? ;)

    Comment by Amy — September 26, 2007 @ 12:30 am | Reply

  2. Daniel and Amanda,

    You are truly beautiful people. Truly. I am so blessed to know and be encouraged by your lives. I think you probably have more to think through about your evening, and I’d love to hear it, but know that what you did is so much more what Jesus looks like in our world then most of what I’ve seen in years of attending churches.
    Beautiful people.

    Comment by ariahfine — September 26, 2007 @ 5:21 am | Reply

  3. […] for visiting! (p.s. this box will go away after a few more visits If you want to know what Following Jesus looks […]

    Pingback by Looking for Jesus at Trying to follow — September 26, 2007 @ 5:23 am | Reply

  4. ok… I have to go to bed. I left a comment explaining earlier that I saw you guys today on Oprah. I decided to start at the beginning of your blogs after reading a few of the recent ones. Now my husband is in bed, and I better go join him.

    I don’t have the words to express how great this was of you two! Man, if we were all as loving and hospitable. Makes me really think about the true meaning of not living in fear…. g’night

    Comment by Christina — February 27, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply


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