Daniel is back. He did some time in jail and the hospital. Sunday was the first day he saw me since I got back from Synod. I had been holding $400 of his money for him since he’s sure that someone else is taking his Social Security money from the bank account.
“How much do you want Daniel?”
“All of it.”
This morning I got to church to see shopping carts strewn about, scraps of junk all over the parking lot. Daniel scrounges for stuff that he can strip the metal out of and bring to the recycling place. He eventually cleans up, but in the process the other members of the church get upset and impatient about the mess.
Daniel was sleeping inside the locked gates when I came in.
The sun was working its way towards his eyes so I figured I’d let him sleep until the hot CA sun woke him.
There was a quiet, sane knock on the door. It wasn’t Daniel or Greg. Daniel always sounds like he’s attacking the door, Greg never stops knocking until I open it. It was a quiet, sane, polite knock. It was Krystal.
Krystal is working hard to move her child care facility to our facility. She’s patient, disciplined and kind. She often praises me for being kind to Daniel and others, but now Daniel is her problem too. She’s doing her best to be patient and understanding. That’s good.
I told her that Daniel will clean up his mess, in time, and that when she opens the child care center he can’t do this kind of thing anymore because it isn’t safe for children. She agreed and was satisfied. Phew.
An hour later I hear shuffling and loud moaning. Daniel is up. He’s moaning in pain because he doesn’t feel good. The sleep has taken the alcohol and the drugs out of his system. Then he pounds on the door. It’s Daniel’s pounding.
He comes in with just that hoodie and the towel. He turns around so I can see he isn’t wearing anything underneath. Then he faces me (butt to the street) so I ask him to come in.
“Pastor, Do you have any shorts?”
“just what I’m wearing”
I think “a true saint would give the shorts off his loins” but that will cause other trouble. I know he’ll find some. He asks for other articles of clothing I clearly don’t have. He eats some cheese he gave me last month. I’m out of soda so he’ll have to be satisfied with water. He needs to find some clothes to get to the recycling place because he needs money.
“Daniel, What happened to the $400 I gave you Sunday?”
“Things go fast when you’re me.”
Daniel really has an outrageous sense of humor.
We chat for a while while he eats cheese and drinks water. Then I get a call so he stumbles out. Finds some shorts and socks and we cut the ends of an electrical cord so he can fashion a belt.
There is no answer for Daniel in the age of decay. He used to work in the mental health hospital he now frequents for his regular cycle of detoxing, jail, and then back to homelessness.
We like to think we’re different from Daniel, but we’re not.
We might be able to hold onto $400 longer than he can. We might be able to hold a job, pay a mortgage, support kids through school, plan or retirement, have a vacation. Daniel had all of these things for a while. He’s a very devout Mormon. He keeps getting kicked out of church, usually for good reason. He can be violent and dangerous at times.
This will go on for a few more years, until he’s put in jail for something serious, or gets hit by a car again, or ODs, or gets hurt or killed in a fight, or gets cancer or something.
All of our fixes are temporary. They may feel longer to us than Daniel’s fixes. Things go fast when you’re Daniel. Our things go slower, but they go just the same.
There is no human answer to this.
This is why I believe. Believing alone is hard though.
This is why there is a church, to help me believe.