Transients I Have Known

•Todd- One of the most unique and eccentric people I’ve ever met. Todd would hang out at different coffee shops and occasionally I’d see him striding with purpose across town. Where’s he going?
Talking with him was always stimulating. Most of the time, what he said made absolutely no sense to me. Like dream-logic. From thinking up some newfangled means of space travel, to using the foil-lined lids of frozen dinners to sew into his pants’ lining (“keeps me cool”), he was always cogitating, always imagining. Always working with his hands. More power to him.

•Bruce- Bruce can usually be seen in the food court of a certain local supermarket/department store—all his earthly possessions splayed out on the counter against the wall—reading a tattered paperback novel. He’s kind, generous (more than once did he offer to give my dad his unfinished book), humble, self-effacing. Where did he learn this? From Tom Clancy? Perhaps. I say that humility like this can only be learned from suffering the hardships of life and not retaliating. Forgiveness is key. Oh, and he understands bicycles inside-and-out. He’d make a master bike mechanic. Who knows what skills people possess that aren’t being utilized?

•Wilhelm- The two words that come to mind when I think of Wilhelm are ‘stoic’ and ‘disciplined’. And it’s more than just his can-collecting routine. He has a sign on his bike that reads “JESUS IS LORD. REPENT AND BE SAVED.” Older and with a grey ponytail and beard, he rolls his own menthol cigarettes. Maybe it was this discipline and drive that kept him alive when he suffered an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He’s from a Mennonite background, austerity is in his blood.

•Dan- Affectionately known as “Downtown Dan” by the community, he must clock twenty miles a day walking. You’ll see him when you’re running errands on one side of town at noon and then again on the opposite side of town later in the day. What the?! Anyone you talk to will say the same. Maybe his nickname should be “Ubiquitous Dan”. Rumor has it that, the night of his graduation, while hanging out the passenger side of his friend’s car, he hit his head on a stop sign. Not sure if this is true. He’s always cordial with a wave. Always wondering if I remember him. How could I forget?

“The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)

Jesus was homeless as an adult. I can’t say the same about myself. There was a time, however, during my parents separation and subsequent divorce, that I saw the homeless way of life as appealing. A chance to start over. In God’s economy, there is room (and a room) for everyone. The reason that people make it through any tough time is because of God. His vision in our heart is enough to change circumstances and situations. And if there’s anything at all that we can do to help our homeless, we need to step up and step out. It doesn’t take a lot and sometimes, not even money. Simply acknowledging them as you pass by—God looking at and loving them through your eyes—is enough to reignite that glimmer of their humanity that they either lost or misplaced. Or was extinguished by society. God will use you. And whether or not you feel led to give, make sure you pray for them.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” (John 14:2)

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