Homeless Vet

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First guy I meet in Portland is a homeless guy named Steve, he is just hanging out,  so I started talking with him. His hands were a mess: swollen, chapped over the top, and bright red underneath. He was sensitive about them and tried to keep them out of sight. I asked him about them anyway, turns out he has psoriasis.

I offer him a bagel and he accepts, but then later says it will be too hard to eat. I ask him what he wants and he says a cup of coffee. So I start asking people for coffee money, I get a couple of turn downs but then this kid on a bike named Josh, who has heard the whole conversation and I think is moved that I am treating Steve just like a regular person, gives me three bucks.

I like his compassion and shake his hand. A Starbucks is close and while I am ordering the coffee, Steve comes in and says just to get one cup. I think he thinks there is only enough money for one cup. He is a really sweet guy and wants me to have the coffee, but there is enough for two. He also gives me a granola bar and muffin, which I accept joyfully.
~ October 3, 2011

FIRST THEM CAME FOR Graphic #2 homeless vetLast night I went to sleep in a bark flowerbed, telling myself I deserve God’s love. It is still an issue for me but it is getting easier to trust it is true.

People are up early in the city, lots of folks in the service industry go to work at six.

So I wake up to people chatting away drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes maybe twenty feet from me. It is a little strange getting out of bed in front of the whole world, but I am fine with it.

Those folks must see it a lot because they didn’t bat an eye. I found two clean blankets last night sitting in a garbage sack folded and neat just like God had left them there for me. I threw one over Steve who is sleeping on the concrete in a parking garage not far away. When I checked in the morning he had kicked it off. He says the heat makes his Psoriasis kick up.

I never realized how much resentment I had built up against rich folks. Lots of them can be very hard hearted. Being in nature is a good way to help emotions release. I felt a large hunk of sadness let go when I was watching some seagulls preen and clean themselves in the wind on the coast. But it is going to take a while to get through it all. Back when I was homeless in the South a rich person might have helped me out once or twice but I don’t really remember it. It was always guys in pickup trucks with some burgers and a five, and mom’s in mini vans, their kids gawking at me out the window.

Portland has a good service center for the homeless, I walked down there and got a shower, then I cleaned showers for a while, which gives me points for free laundry and copies. The people working there are really kind and non-judgmental. 

 Steve and I are becoming pretty good friends. He is broken hearted, thinks he is going to hell, and doesn’t believe God still cares about him.

He asked me to pray for him, his name is Steve M., and you can add your prayers if you like.


hobo2Hobo John found himself homeless in the Florida Keys ten years ago and is sharing his stories with us. His story can be found here:

John wants you to know: “I’m not for the government doing more to help these folks.

Their help tends to come with a lot of humiliation, stipulations, and rules, but I am for us finding our hearts again as a people and taking care of our own.”

Thanks – would love to hear from you;

— Hobo John

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