In the DDC there are many secrets, mysteries, misplaced effects and gone astray people. Things happen with little notice or reason. You hear many stories, rumors, tales, and theories. Some of them are literally implausible and some of them so out of the ordinary that the challenge is to identify what ordinary is? There are great and wonderful tales of hope and there are tales of great tragedy and pain. This week, there has been a diminutive of both. Inside the DDC at the front desk there is an 8×10 photocopied print of a woman who had died at the hands of another human being. The picture is a memorial. As you sit back and watch the community in action you notice that some people glimpse at the photo while others stop to take a long look, possibly writing a small note on it. Despondently, I heard one man say, ‘That’s just how it goes down here’.
The picture is of Lelia Kim Scott. A beautiful woman who had walked throughout the doors of the DDC. She had hopes, dreams and goals. Just like you and I would. The obvious is that she was liked within the walls of the DDC. I suspect Leila had made some bad decisions and had , had tribulations in her life but, who hasn’t. She recently had gotten her own apartment; a place to call home, a place to lay her head, a place where people would not be constantly milling about. I picture her, just like any of us, walking through her new home and smiling. I picture her planning how to decorate her place, possibly wondering if this was a great beginning to a new future and I picture her being excited to be back on her feet again. Leila was a 44 year old woman. A man in a fit of rage decided to end her life with a baseball bat. She was declared dead in her apartment due to multiple blunt force traumas to her head and neck.
It has definitely been a diverse and difficult week at the DDC. And yet, God finds moments to walk into the DDC and remind everyone that there is hope and love. I have heard people experiencing homelessness say that living in a shelter is like the, ‘The Gates Of Hell’ and ‘The place that angels fear to tread’. I prefer to call it, ‘A place where God walks daily and often loving those most in need.’ You just have to keep your eyes and ears open and be aware. Reminiscent of what my pastor likes to say, ‘Come expecting’.
There is a man at the DDC who shuttles food back and forth to some of the folks who just can’t get to the DDC in time for a meal. Additionally, there is a man who collects clothes, sleeping bags, socks, and other basic necessities who also comes to the DDC. Some of you most likely have seen this man wandering the streets with all these clothes. He doesn’t carry them for himself, he carries them for ‘someone who might need them’, and for the people down at the DDC. Often times you will see person after person coming to him thanking him for the coat, sweatshirt, socks, hats, gloves, etc. The other day a person was telling him that if he had not gotten that sleeping bag before the deep freeze, ‘I would a froze, I owe you my life dad’. She wasn’t his daughter per say, but many bond together for endurance and family relations. They love each other, and make sure each other are fed, clothed, loved and equipped to survive. The mission is clear – one more day, one more chance to try and get it right.
I often marvel at the resources people experiencing homelessness are able to tap into. Their resource needs are not met by e-mail, text, phone calls or mail. Their resources are by word of mouth. Sure, some have cell phones but word of mouth travels faster. A caring heart and a giving soul gives a long time at the DDC. The way one’s needs are met at the DDC is a beautiful bond of love for each other. I often wonder if many of the folks I personally know would have the gumption and wherewithal to survive down at the DDC. I’m not sure if I even would.
The greatest part of the DDC (whether it be crisis or care giving) is the spirit of those being served; the person experiencing homelessness. People experiencing homelessness often are downtrodden, battered, used, and often times left behind. They have been through the wringer, have maybe made the wrong decisions, and have had dreadful things happen to them. And yet, they rise again and again! They keep their essence and spirit fighting. Not just for survival but because their God is an AWESOME GOD and God’s love, at all costs, prevails.
Sometimes life throws that curveball, that thing that just hovers beyond your field of vision, and then ‘BAM’, right into the strike zone. The objective is to remember that the world still turns, good things happen, bad things happen, and people keep on movin on.
I have been blessed to hear some of the deepest most insightful, spiritual thoughts I have ever heard. I am a blessed man to be able to walk among these folks. And I am thankful to be allowed to see and hear their words. I love each and every one of you, and God does too.