Stories from the Homeless (22)

Well summer is officially here. The streets of Philadelphia are filled with people going to and fro, while the homeless somehow remain unnoticed by the mainstream of people who fill Love Park. To the untrained eye, you would think that everyone in the park that day had a home and was simply enjoying the beautiful weather outside. We knew better though. As we walked to find an empty bench, we realized that this would be a very different day than previous visits. Our service and friendship with the less fortunate would be seen by large crowds of people, which made it hard at times to keep our excitement and pride under control. I felt like a kid who had way too much sugar, which never helps when one is trying to do something everyone should be doing.

Those who sat on the benches suddenly came up and began receiving coffee and sandwiches. Some of them were familiar while others were brand new to us. This seems to happen every week. I felt like an ADHD patient as my mind and thoughts were not easily stilled. So much was going on tonight-in Love Park; it was a mad house.

To our immediate right, there were several families eating their own food and listening to music. Further down on our right, there was a group of guys who were doing dances from Broadway shows and clapping along to the unknown music they knew by heart. I am not one to label anyone but I find it hard to believe that they were all straight in their orientation. They would air hump one another as they danced and every once in a while, grab one another’s rear end, signifying a unity they had with one another. Throughout the whole night, they gave a performance that would put Avenue Q out of business.

Behind me though is where all the action was. We had BMX riders doing crazy stunts. They would jump over bikes placed upside down and other wild tricks. There was also a group of 10 or so skateboarders who were not that bad. They were no Tony Hawks but they did their best. Some of them were quite talented with their abilities. I talked to one skater for a little while some homeless woman was yelling at them to go home and do their homework. He said that he was doing something positive. He didn’t wan to do drugs or end up like some of his dead-beat friends. Skating was a release for him and he was only 14. He told me the cops don’t bother them about it because they aren’t doing anything wrong. The woman 30 feet away from me didn’t seem to agree. I met her formally later that evening.

To the skater’s left, there were a group of guys doing some serious break dancing. They were good too. When I asked the guy who skated about them, he said they come out and make a killing on the crowds who sit and watch. He said they could pull in a hundred dollars an hour if they worked the crowd right. I was impressed.

Among all of this activity, we served the homeless. How odd is it that people can sit and not be noticed? I guess when our lives are so consumed by our own agendas, we often miss out on serving others. That simply must be the reason.

Danny showed up tonight as usual, talking about his experiences with other groups he had met throughout the week. He said he liked our group the best though because we genuinely seemed to care about him and the others we serve. He always seems to struggle with the words he wants to share but always ends up making us feel as though our ministry there is worthwhile. That is one thing I really appreciate about him.

As things began to slow down a little, with regards to the homeless, I decided to go across the street and grab a drink. When I was in line, I saw a “woman” getting cancer sticks and then realized that this “woman” was not a woman at all. With a tight white shirt, and female flip-flops, our “woman” was either a male or had the largest Adam’s apple I have ever seen.

When I went back, the woman who was yelling at the boys to go home finally came over and introduced her rude self to the group. She called herself Mrs. Jones. Though she did not possess a wedding band, I could only assume she was married or had been married. By the way, she told me she was rude – so I figured that is how she wants to be remembered. She barked out orders for her coffee and then told me that I am wasting my time being there. When I asked her why, her response was that they needed to get a job and do something rather than do nothing. I asked what she did for work, since she had yelled several times over that “she pays taxes” and apparently these kids did not, she looked up at me and said she was “in between jobs.” I just looked at her in disbelief. How could a woman yell at a bunch of kids who are doing nothing wrong and yet have nothing to do herself as a form of employment? It all just seemed a little to hypocritical to me. In any event, she took her coffee and went back to her seat to yell at the boys once again for skating in a park that apparently she paid taxes to sleep in.

After she sat down, Linda, our spunky 58-year-old woman came over and blessed us with her presence. She was wearing a red “Coke” shirt that said Jesus Christ. She loved it though she first thought it was a coke shirt. She, Mrs. Jones, and a couple of other homeless people I had not talked to, joined us for prayer. As we left, I felt as though these next couple of weeks was going to be quite unique. It really is never a dull moment in Love Park. I am just glad that we get to go and serve others. What a great night.

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