Monday, January 22, 2007

Thursday to Sunday Stint - Part 1

As the week goes on without a wash, the smelliest part of my body is the feet. With all the walking they sweat a lot, and with the dirt that gets trapped in my sandals it creates this soft stinky mush underfoot. While it is generally easy to wash my feet, it is a lot more difficult to clean up my sandals where the dirt and the smell becomes quite trapped and ingrained in the cracks and material. This usually means my feet get stinky again as soon as I put the sandals back on. A few times I have been able to clean up the sandals by soaking them in White King bleach and Hospital Grade Pine'o Clean, then after a scrub and a wash, I leave them to dry overnight and they are fine again the next day.

This has given me a new appreciation for the woman who kissed and then washed Jesus' feet with her tears and her hair! Jesus, as anyone walking around the deserts and towns of that time, would also have had just as stinky feet and sandals. That meant she would have got the gag inducing smell on her lips and all through her hair, and would she would have had no respite from it until she could wash at a later time. I'm not sure I can think of anyone I would do that for as a dare, let alone as an unprompted voluntary act of love...

Outside the Town Hall I sat on a bench next to the Foot Patrol. This is a couple of people who walk around and give out free clean kits (new needle and syringes) to drug addicts as a service to help reduce the risk and spread of infection from the sharing of used equipment. The people that met them were not obvious users by appearance and, as with any addiction or illness, could be any person you pass on the street, or might even know. Although I had meet one street girl on the Steps who was the skinniest girl I had ever seen, which prompted me to look down her arms where I did see some evidence of injecting. Not to say that skinny means drug user, but I have met addicts over time and I have noticed a number of tell tale signs to look for. In some people I can sometimes see that something is physically wrong, from a spiritual perspective.

Over the past week I had been concerned that I had not seen Rick (the guy who gets drunk for two days and then sleeps rough for two weeks until his next payment) since our chat at the start of the year. So I was pleased as he came up and sat down next to me at the Steps, and asked if I would head up to the Vic Markets with him to get some food. Along the way he told me how yesterday he had been rolled (mugged) by a guy at Southbank for all his money. He said he had even voluntarily given the guy his good basketball top. He said his plan was that he hoped the mugger would wear the top and then Rick would be easily able to spot him at a later time, so he could go and kill him. There is a lot of threatening talk from street people when they have been wronged, and I am often not sure just how much follow through with action some people would back their words with. Although Rick is a pretty fit tough character, and so I was surprised he was mugged. I can only assume he was drunk at the time or else muggers are pretty confident in their actions, and my feelings of being safer in the city because I am a male just dropped a little.

On the way to the food van Rick stopped at a bottle shop to buy a beer. He came up 50 cents short and asked me if I had any change. This is an issue I have grappled with from the start, and my position on giving out change has fluxed quite a bit. Before the FW I had a no-give-cash policy but offered to buy stuff on people's behalf. As I started the FW I changed to a share everything I received as a no questions asked act of non-judgmental love. Right now I am somewhere in between. I think I should give some of the money away without judgment to those who ask, but I also am struggling with giving money to those who I know for sure are using it to directly support an addiction, which is most of those asking for change around the city, but not all. The problem this has now led to is what to say when I don't want to give change. A few times I have said, "I don't have any" which is a lie, and I am not comfortable with that! It is so much easier when I don't have any money and I can say truthfully that I don't have any. At this time I did have some and I decided to give it to Rick, even though I knew for sure it was for a beer. In this instance I saw it as helping out a mate with some money, in the same way I would lend a friend from work 50 cents if we were down at the pub and he was short. Even so, I am still not sure of the right approach to these situations.

Up at the food van I did get a chance to talk to Rick a bit about God as he was shocked to learn I don't like to drink alcohol very much, as it "disrupts my communication with God." The more time you spend focused on life's distractions is less time to think about God. He said the whole point of drinking was to 'disrupt your communication' which was what he needed to take a break from thinking about how bad life was. He said death would bring him peace and he had been so drunk a number of times (past 0.5%) that he had died for short moments before ending up in hospital. Though he said he was not an alcoholic as the difference is that an alcoholic can't help himself and must drink, and when he does he barely feels any effect (which is a good description of Dougy who can easily hold a conversation with you no matter how much he has drunk, and actually talks completely normal to the cops they approach, and seems sober until they are gone), where as with Rick, he chooses when to drink and, as it is only every couple of weeks, it still 'does it for him'. He asked me what 'does it' for me? I said, "a Margherita pizza with anchovies" :)

After the van left I talked with Eco Paul. I mentioned to him I was thinking of heading down the coast this Saturday, and he asked if he could come along. I said that it would be fine, but that I had just not made up my mind as to whether this Saturday was the right time or not. You see, sometimes I get a leading from God that I should go and meet and talk to someone, but not all the information comes in at once. The three parts to a meeting are a location, a person and a time. In this instance I had the location in mind, but not the time or person. Over the past few weeks the feeling/push to head there was getting stronger and stronger, but not enough to commit yet to the decision to go. Eco asked me for a decision so he could plan for it but I was unable to do so and instead I told him I would let him know tomorrow. So we agreed to meet at the steps at 6pm tomorrow (Friday) and I would let him know the answer and then we would also go and have dinner and visit MIF Church. It was sorted, for now, and we headed back to the Steps where I said goodbye as he caught a tram home then sat down to pray for clarity about the situation. It was midnight.

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