Allan

Matthew 25:40

 ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The old man turns and gathers up his excess saliva/snot with a combination snort, gurgle and a contortion of the mouth. He lets it fly with abandon; his lack of concern for the surroundings is utterly complete. The spittle lands with an audible plop on the semi clean linoleum floor beside his cot. A resting place that is a balance between a prison bed and a fold out army cot. Simple and impersonal, well worn blankets that have covered many bodies before.

He groans with every movement. His body feels weaker and stiffer than he can recall. Slowly he shifts his legs to the edge of the cot. He would like to stand up and make the short distance to the washroom that is only a few feet away. But the cot is too low and his legs too weak. He grunts indicipherably to the air. Grunts again louder this time. A young man in a nearby cot is roused by the voice in the semi darkness. “Gotta Pee” in Cree, brings the younger man to action. “I’m coming” “Fuck, Allan it’s too fuckin early!”

He gets up and aids in maneuvering the old man to his feet. Gets the walker positioned so Allan can start shuffling towards his goal. There are times lately when it is just too far and not enough time. It can’t wait for the rest of his body to catch up. There are the diapers that sit in a discreet unmarked box in the nearby washroom. That will be the next step, soon.

The morning discomfort in his joints does not let up. After his business is wrapped up, he slowly shuffles, pushes his walker through the dorm past the rest of the snoring, sniffling, snuffling men who have won a placement in this stark haven of sleeping humanity. These men made the grade. Passed the intoxication test and so made it into the warmth, the security of the inner sanctum. Many do not. they spend the night in the cold foyer trying to sleep on the floor or a hard plastic chair. There is also the ATM vestibules, or huddling by warm airs ducts or even staying up all night and walking the streets to keep warm rather than the alternative; Dead frozen or the police cells.

Allan’s mobility has limited his options. He cant sleep outside any more. His legs wont carry him around the block never mind walking all night. No one snuck him any liquor last night and he is between trustee paydays and so he is not hungover. He thinks he will have to get a drink today, or he will lose it.

He shuffles past the cold foyer door. He can see through the security glass door that some of the regulars have showed up and are passed out or waiting for the doors to open at 8am. He knows most of them. Most are long term street people or some with unstable housing. There’s a million and one stories out there hiding in the hearts of men and women like Allan.

“Good Morning Mr. Moccasin!” breaks the dullness of the morning. The upbeat shelter support worker is nearing the end of a long 12 hour night shift and he is giddy from exhaustion. Allan is not much for niceties in the morning. His pain takes priority and he makes sure the worker knows it. “Give me my pills!” “Hey!, Hey! Wheres my fucking pills.” The worker turns from surfing Facebook and takes in Allan and his request. He responds kindly: “Ok Allan, pills coming right up.” “How did you sleep?”

Allan grunts and waits for his Tylenol to arrive. The support worker quickly delivers pain relief and water. Allan swallows, hopes for quick relief; and turns to walk down hall towards cafe. He passes a woman sleeping on the floor, drool and blood from her nose dried on to her winter parka, toque pulled down over her face. The support worker is keeping an eye on her to make sure she keeps breathing and isn’t seizuring. Allan walks by without a glance. He makes the cafe slowly, turns the walker that is supplied by the shelter around to sit on. He ackwardly pulls himself up to a table, hoping someone is working that will bring him a coffee. Its too early, the dining area is just getting rolling. The smell of coffee are just beginning. Morning or night, it doesnt matter that much anymore. He sleeps anytime, sometimes right at the dinner table, half sleep, half passed out.

A younger Cree is up and about, shuffling around, looking for something. He isnt paying attention to the elder. He doesnt know Allan or obviously traditional treatment of elders because he makes no move to getting Allan his first coffee.

“Hey”, Allan grunts. The stranger comes over. “Coffee”, Allan points to the Bunn percolating in the corner of the dining area. The kid walks away in a fog of meth psychosis, scratching at invisible bugs under his skin, mumbling incoherantly.

“Fucking Indians!” Allan curses in Cree. He flips the kid off as he walks out into the frigid winter chill in the shelter pyjamas; Tshirt and boxer underwear. No respect anymore. The drugs they are doing make them crazy. Allan longs for the old days. The days when a man was a man and a woman a woman, alcohol was the only drug you needed. People werent so crazy.

He is frustrated. He cant just up and leave anymore and do what he chooses. His body has caught up with him. The shelter is not so bad. Could be worse. So many rules though. That new manager is always checking him out and telling him what to do. Allan laughs to himself. “Fucking bald whitey! Lol.” He thinks he is in charge. Big Bossman, some of them call him. Let him think that. If he gets too close, I could still take him out with one punch. I did it to that cop a couple of years ago. Got to spend the winter in jail. Warm and 3 meals a day. Dried out for a bit and everything. Not so bad. Bossman better watch how close he comes.

Oh, fuck. Almost forgot what today is. Some girls from some home are coming again to get together with me. Bossman keeps telling me about like its a big deal. Met them a month ago, signed some papers to go live in a old folks home. Thought it might be good. Tried it for a few days. Was total BS. Too quiet for me. Nice to be around the nurses, but everyone was not just old, they are half dead. Too quiet, they dont take well to me doing what I want. No freedom. Even the smokes are locked up.

Tried to punch one of the nurses, then started banging on locked door. Told them to let me out. Got a cab and went right to park for a drink. I knew shelter would let me in. Bossman is white, but also a Christian. But Jesus I needed to drink!

Made it back to shelter that night. Cant climb those fucking stairs and damn elevator wont work. The boys had to carry me up. Staff just looked at me, like they seen a ghost. “Allan, what are you doing here? You got a new home!”

“Open the fucking door.” They buzz me in. Just gone a few days and the indians greet me like a returning hero from war. They really missed me. But manager couldn’t believe his eyes. Ha Ha! He thought he got rid of me forever!

Bossman asks me to come in the office a couple of days later. Scolds me like a little kid. He looks stressed, bags under his eyes. He heard from old folks home that I wasnt too good. Says something about that he cant take care of me anymore. You need a better place to live than this shelter. You need proper medical care, nurses and food. “We arent set up to take care of you Allan,” “We are going to have you assessed again and an intake done for the home again. If you leave the home again, we cant let you back in the shelter.”

“My money, give me a few bucks. Come on?”

Bossman looks frustrated. He gets me my allowance for the day. I get a kid to buy a bottle and sneak it into shelter. I dont want to think…anymore.

The same girls as last time are here today. They are very nice to me. I sign the papers again. The Bossman doesn’t look any happier after. He and the intake workers are just another long line of do-gooders who want to help the homeless, drunken Indian. I really don’t like that place, the old folks home, Its too clean, too many rules, the others who live there are so out of it. I can always escape again after they get tired of me. I know Bossman will let me in again. He’s a sucker. Those Christians are soft.

Two months later a cab pulls up in front of the homeless shelter. Allan sits in the backseat. The Bossman is alerted. They have been watching for him just in case. The nursing home said this was the last time they would take him back. Allan starts to get out of the cab. The manager meets him at the back door of the cab. They speak.

The manager stands as if to block the door from opening any further. The taxi driver is impatient. Allan’s one leg is outside the cab with his foot on the pavement. His eyes look off far into the distance as he slumps back in the seat.

True, Life Long Gratitude: Henri Nouwen

Nouwen writes in “Turn My Mourning into Dancing” that when we really believe that God redeems, “we can be grateful for every moment we have lived.” True hope requires that we learn to be grateful for every part of life. He says this: “When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for the future can likewise never be full.”

Do You hear what I hear?

                                                        

Listen, the quiet speaks

shy silence, far away

Messages of Love, charity, sacrifice,

burning passion,

its right here, close,

present, breathing,

does no one here?

Lover of my Soul,

Whispers sweet,

but not complete,

Enough for now, but now I long,

Promised more,

Hope, pray, wait,

Listen close,

I Am.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Saturday Morning Hope

We share the early hours and minutes in spontaneous conversation. Coffee, talk, smiles and comfortable silences.

She’s so beautiful, smart, kind. And she loves me! I am so fortunate.

How did I come to be married in my mid fifties? Or start a new career/life path a couple years ago. Back to full time (on site) college at 49!

For a guy who struggles with long term depression, dysthymia, Shame, and Chronic fatigue; I am pretty proud of myself.

To be able to choose your life direction is a great gift. The world may look at you and assume that you have always chosen to do what you want. To me, it never felt that way. I felt locked into my circumstances unable to change the trajectory I was on.

I was never taught or was not born with a sense of hope that led to self efficacy and self confidence. My gifts and talents were unknown to me. What was possible?

Risk was a dirty word. “Play it safe”, “Don’t take chances”, “Save your money just in case”…

Waking up at the age of 40, with my mental, emotional, physical, relational and spiritual health in the toilet was enough to bring me to my knees.

I hate myself, my life. I can’t go on like this.

‘Help!’

Then God showed up.

Belief

I was raised in a faithless family. In my memories, which are few, it just was not a focus. I’m not saying it was a negative, its just where my parents and their parents ended up.

I have been a seeker since I was about 20 years old. My sister, for reasons beyond my understanding bought me the now legendary “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I was into motorcycles, was quite gifted mechanically and loved to read. She took a guess. I don’t think she has ever bought anything like that for me before or since. I should ask her if she recalls her motivation for that. If she saw some latent spiritual seeker in her brother.

I was consumed by the narrative of the spiritual journey that the author described. My mind and heart were fertile ground for spirituality. I was searching for meaning, and have been for my whole life.

One of my vivid teenage memories is of having one of our very few heart to heart talks with my mother. She was curious about where I was at, since I rarely shared anything with them after about age 12. They were not a source of safety for me. Our family rarely shared emotions and my heart was particularly soft. To protect myself, I just shut down with them. My peer group became the only safe place, and even that was a false safety. It felt like I was telling her the most important wisdom in the world. At that age you think you know everything. “Life has no meaning, the only thing that matters is having fun in whatever way you find, all the time.”

Without knowing the power of my words, I had cursed myself, or if it suits better; I had installed a mental narrative at a vulnerable time in my life that would affect me for years to come. My twenties were fun, but empty. I had no goals, no dreams, no purpose. I self medicated with soft drugs, alcohol, friends, parties, girls, and more. To try to fill up, or numb the lack in my heart and soul.

https://unsplash.com/@soufroud

I clung to the next thing, to save me, to give me purpose, to put a smile on my face, if only temporarily. I was clinically depressed and medicated for it. My thirties was much the same. I was single, decently employed, relatively attractive, but not a catch. I didn’t know myself and it was evident to these women. Socially, I craved quality relationships, but didn’t have much to give.

I got religion, I got Jesus, born again at age 40. Wow! I found myself desperate, broken, searching in a place that I never thought I would be found. A Church, Pentecostal to boot! This was faith, belief, community, connection, transformation, healing all in one simple prayer. I was ready to jump fully in!

It gave me purpose, helped me heal, “find my self” (Lol). The Church was everywhere as well. It was worldwide as I soon discovered. I found the courage to travel, to explore, to risk. I found the courage to invest myself fully no matter what the scoffers said. I did something(I did a lot of things) that I had wanted to do for a long time but lacked the courage. I quit the family business after 30 years and went to university to pursue pastoral leadership. I felt called to dive deep. It felt great to surrender and get out of my home town and start to really live. “Yes” became my mantra. Yes to life, to risk, to failure, to redemption, to relationship.

I am now married(first time, only time. To an amazing soul). I have five “step” children(first), seven step grandchildren a new career and purpose.

My belief looks nothing like it did on that day I was “born again” back in 2003. I do not run from doubt. It helps to form my belief journey. Its far from static. My heart of belief is not tied to church doctrine, or the inerrant, infallible “word of God”. It is tied to an energy, a purpose, a kind, forgiving, patient, redeeming, healing, Creator God. A God who is very familiar with humanity, who knows me inside and out intimately. He lives in all things, he aspires to inspire us to join the Journey to See, him, her, it, or rather Them.

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash


They made us good. They invite us to participate in the healing journey taking place inside us, in our neighbour and in creation.

More to come….

My short opening post was a vague, incomplete intro to where I am right now. However, I will now say “Welcome to my Blog”.

There is much more that I will be exploring than my lack of employment on this blog. I cant even believe that I am writing a blog. To find myself with the time and the need to develop some kind of income at this time in my life is either a huge gift or a cruel joke of The Creator.

I have many passions. Many have not been deeply explored, others due to personal necessity have become central to my ongoing health and well being. As the header to my site displays; Healing, Hope, Wholeness, will be the central themes of this space. It is my passion for myself and for others to know as much about the wonderful “Self” of who we are, how we are made, and what our purpose is. The god energy that each human being lives with, is personal, dynamic and loving. We move and breathe with an intimate Creator who is worthy of knowing. For all the deep trials and monumental struggles that this life may bring, its still worth the journey.

Hope of healing and wholeness, of a brighter more joyful tomorrow. Even if we cannot smile ourselves today: there is always a chance, a possibility to bring joy or to be someone else’s joy.Please engage with me on this journey. I look forward to hearing from you. We all have a story, or many stories that help us to communicate who we are and how we hurt. And we all hurt. But, on the other side, there is a mysterious force that desires our joy. A force that is asking us to join Him, to participate in, and to share his knowledge and healing, hoping, holistic presence. Its there for all of us. Come and see.

Today is a New Beginning!

Here I am officially unemployed, no prospects, no leads, little local opportunity and yet there is hope. I have hope. Why though?

My hope comes from my experiences in the past. I draw upon my faith, my history, my wife’s support. In the end, I can do nothing else.

God, the Universe, the Energy behind all things, lives in me. Failure is not an option. In fact there is no failure, only more opportunities. I am so thankful for the opportunity to hope and the energy that gets me up in the morning to attack another day. As George Harrison sings: “Here comes the Sun, and I say it’s allright!”