The Missing Homeless Person

A few days ago, this question was posed on the site Quora: “If a homeless person I see on a regular basis suddenly disappears (and no dead body is found), what would police do if I reported him missing?”  I could not speak on the behalf of law enforcement.  But since I was twice the subject of a Missing Persons Report, I did my best to speak on my own behalf.

Twice, during the 12 year period when I was homeless, a person concerned about my whereabouts filed a Missing Persons Report.

The first time, I received a mysterious message from “Joe” on my Facebook that read: “Welfare Check.” The person named Joe identified himself as a Marin County detective.

I did not understand what a “welfare check” was. I told him, quite naively, that I was not on General Assistance (i.e., “welfare”) and that I received no such check.

He explained that a young woman whom I had been working with had been concerned about my whereabouts after having received an alarming email stating I was alone in Golden Gate Park in inclement weather. (This is true, because I sent the email to her and others from a cafe that was near G.G.Park.)

Once I put the twos and twos together, I was able to tell him I was fine and staying temporarily in a motel, and that I was sorry I had caused anyone any consternation.

flying empty signThe second time was a bit different, and actually was more of an inconvenience than anything else. I had been in a halfway house, and I left before the two week term was up. I left because I couldn’t stand being around all the strangers, and I wanted to be alone, and sleep alone outside. (This was always my preference, during the years when I was homeless.)

Again, it came back to me — through Facebook, of all places — that an MPR had been filed and that police were looking for me.

Because I felt I had left the halfway house responsibly, informing the case workers there that I was leaving, I was incensed. I called them up and said:

“How on earth can anyone file a Missing Persons Report on a homeless person? Missing from WHERE????”

Everybody at the North Berkeley Senior Center who had surrounded me at the moment thought this was very amusing, but of course the social worker on the other end of the line failed to see the humor.

So – again this is only my experience. It does show that the police did care, and that part’s good. But it also shows part of the reason why I no longer use Facebook. I value my privacy. If you ever become homeless — if you haven’t been already — I suggest you value yours as well.

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Tuesday Tuneup Six

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I really wish you would stop asking me that.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because today’s the Big Day.

Q. You mean, Tuesday?

A. Well – that, too.  But it’s not just any Tuesday.   Barring the catastrophic, I will finally be with my daughter for the first time in two years, and with my ex-wife for the first time in 16 years.   And my ex and I will be sleeping under the same roof for the first time in 28 years.

Q. How did all this come about?

A. I believe you asked me that already, two or three Tuesdays ago.

Q. Can you run it by me again, please?

A. Whew – I barely know where to start.   And I disdain to unveil personal information about my family here.  Let’s just say that I’m a person who was on the streets for about twelve years in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I learned a lot about people during those twelve years, and a lot about life.  Of course times were hard, and moments were miserable.  But I was given valuable information during that period of time that I have since been compelled to share.

sacrificesI have noticed, however, that not everyone wants to hear this information.  They would rather cling to old stereotypes that make them feel comfortable, because the truth would cause them to look inward, into places within themselves of which they are afraid.

Of course this has been disturbing to me.  When I was homeless, I watched as old friends of mine, people with whom I had thought I would be friends forever, began to reject me one by one.  They didn’t return emails or phone calls.  They got all bent out of shape over relatively little things that gave me the feeling that, if any of these people had landed on the streets, they wouldn’t have lasted more than a week or two.

Before too long, I realized that most of these people were never my friends at all.  In fact, there were times when I thought I had never made a friend in my life — until I had become homeless.

While people of privilege were blowing me off left and right with half-truths and transparent forms of Mainstream Doublespeak, homeless people were telling it like it is.  Sure, there were scoundrels among us.  Of course there were those it is best off to avoid, and yet the streets made it next-to-impossible to do so.

I was hit on the head with guns.  I was pistol-whipped.  I was raped.  I watched all my possessions being burnt to bits before my eyes.  Not one person in my former life who professed to believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins lifted a finger to help me.  The only Christian who continued to believe in me, who treated me as a Christian, is a woman who knew me from the Internet, in a distant State, who never ceased to treat me as an equal, as a friend.  And she is among my best friends to this day.   But as far as people from the church I used to attend when I still was making money in this world?

They told me to go to counseling, to see a psychiatrist, to go into some kind of live-in program of some sort, or to merely “check in” to a shelter – as if they had any clue what bureaucracy would be involved, or what atrocities I would be subjected to in that so-called “shelter.”  The shelters in my world were little more than glorified jailhouses, and I far preferred to sleep in seclusion, absolutely alone.

Did any of those Pontius Pilates actually help me?  If you want to call an occasional lunch date at the price of a lecture “help,” I suppose they did.  Believe me, I was grateful enough for the lunch to put up with the lecture, however irrelevant that lecture may have been.

The continual experience of condescension, dismissal, and disrespect that I received from so-called Christians was such a far cry from the acceptance, dignity, and love that I was receiving from my homeless friends, I would become infuriated at the thought that these “Christians” actually thought they were doing the will of God, when they continually treated a man who was suffering like a bag of dirt.

Even to this day, I have difficulty getting my own eyes to see the naked truth.  Even in the last week, I appealed to former friends of mine, thinking surely they would express some happiness or joy over this reconciliation — when all they did was continue to raise their eyebrows and write me off as “crazy.”

But when the mother of my only daughter reappeared in my life, and I had learned that she had been through trials very similar to that which I and others endure on the streets, she didn’t write me off as crazy.

And the Lord Himself seeks such to worship Him.

Q. John?  Chapter Four?

A. John.  Chapter Four.  The day will come when those who worship God will worship Him neither in Jerusalem nor on the mountain – but the true worshipers will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

The Questioner is silent.

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Gratitude List 803

1. Just awoke from what must have been a three hour nap.
 
2. Melissa offered to help me clean the kitchen and bathroom.   Also grateful even to have a kitchen and a bathroom.   (This most certainly has not always been the case.)
 
3. Interesting detailed new email reply from my brother Steve on the theme of California-bashing.   Evidently this is something he’s researched a lot.   I’ll have to delve into it more deeply when more awake.
 
4. Kent called this morning.   It always seems that whenever I’m feeling pressed to make a blanket decision to remove all Californians from my life — for the sake of my health and sanity, basically — I mean, considering where I’ve come from, and my particularly traumatic experiences in that State – I start getting calls and emails from the Californians whom I particularly love.
 
5. The New Story is the one to live in, however, not the Old — no matter what role geographical location places in the settings of those stories.   I’d rather live in the New Testament than the Old Testament, and I would venture to guess it would be the same for any other Story.
 
6. I think this morning was the best time I have ever had at my church.   Kathy did a great job teaching the Wired Word class, and it was a lively discussion with an eye toward truth.  The combined worship forces of the Praise Team and the Choir blew me away.   I felt focused – on the Right Thing –and I was never distracted by logistic difficulties.   Although I was the only bass, in a way that wasn’t a bad thing.   I put myself on ‘double bass’ and boomed it out, when applicable.   “Assurance” rocked.   Megan is as close to indispensable as any accompanist I’ve ever worked with.
 
7. Finished Midnight Screams and sent it to Erika.  Finished Rat Race or Human Race? and submitted it to Street Spirit.   Denise said she will be publishing Treasures in Heaven in the upcoming edition of Class ActionEden in Babylon workshop is on the 26th, and if this sounds like boasting, please try to frame it vis a vis the fact that two years ago I was sleeping in a Berkeley gutter getting the crap knocked out of me by gang bangers while juggaloes were burning down all my possessions — and Berkeley police could have cared less.
 
8. Last two posts on WordPress doing well.  WordPress in general.   Interesting that Mark Landry and Lynne Fisher both submitted posts on how to deal with “assholes” and with “arrogant people” (respectively) yesterday; and that both posts showed up in my WordPress folder right at the moment when I was trying to deal with an arrogant asshole.   The WordPress karma seems very useful and positive, especially as a constructive alternative to the whole social media phenomenon in general.  
 
9. Jeremiah preached today and said he would buy my race registration for the Paradise Path 10-K on Mom’s birthday, and that we can have lunch afterwards on him.  It’s his birthday that day too.  He’s an interesting bright guy, really liked his discussion of Plato’s Theory of Forms and Gnosticism, and how that fit in to the whole mind-body thing in Christianity.
 
10. Won’t be long now.  My daughter and my ex-wife should arrive on Tuesday, possibly – hopefully – never to depart. The “Tuesday Tuneup” should be pretty interesting, and the Lord God Did It All.

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Weep and Howl

Come now, you rich, weep and howl
for the miseries that are coming upon you.
Your riches have rotted
and your garments are moth-eaten.
Your gold and silver have corroded,
and their corrosion will be evidence against you
and will eat your flesh like fire.

You have laid up treasure in the last days.
Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields,
which you kept back by fraud,
are crying out against you,
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 

You have lived on the earth in luxury
and in self-indulgence.
You have fattened your hearts
in a day of slaughter.
You have condemned and murdered the righteous one –
And he does not resist you.

–James 5:1-5

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Rat Race or Human Race?

Please say a prayer for me.   I may not have any money in life (or care) – but I have so much going on in so many areas right now, I sense the ugly scepter known as Mainstream Stress beginning to rear its head.   This is the form of stress known to give people heart disease, various cancers, and all the other ailments that I effectively avoided by dropping out of the so-called Mainstream in 2004.

The world, the schedules, the agendas, the being-in-a-specific-place-at-specific-time — these are all the things that I swore I would never buy into again.   But today they leap out at me — yea, they lunge.  Even in this small idyllic town that seemed the answer to all my prayers, there is no escape from the Mainstream. 

But all of its arbitrary hierarchical structures have nothing whatever to with the Natural Hierarchy of Nature.  And yet, it is that Natural Hierarchy that everybody seems to be desecrating.  Look at our mad rush, replete with road rage, as we become desperate to get to all these specific places right down to the very nanosecond.    What society would create an absurdity so monstrous as a Casio runner’s watch?    Why do we need to place pressure on the natural pace of our genetic dispositions that was naturally put in place by the Maker in the first place?  Genetically?  Naturally? 

hurryWhy on earth should any of us ever have to present our physical bodies, especially in this Internet age, at a specific place in geographical Earth-related space-time, when all of that hurrying is only destroying us all?  It robs us of our love for others.  It robs us of our love for life.

Arbitrary scheduling inflicted upon the human spirit by pseudo-authorities representing a random hierarchical structure runs in direct opposition to the Natural Order of Nature.  This cannot possibly be good for the Human Race or anybody in it.   It has created gridlock.  It has created road rage.  Is it really so important for me to get there at exactly 9:01.01.003 in the morning?  What about the other guy who needs to get there by 9:01.01.002 in the morning?   Am I any more important than he is just because he will get chewed out by his boss a thousandth of a second sooner than I will by mine?

Does the fact that his boss is a thousandths of single second more of a hard-ass than my boss make him my inferior?

Ever since I’ve had to “rush” again, I’ve become more absent-minded.  The greater the hurry, the greater the absent-mindedness, and the less likely it is that I show up on time.  I lose my keys, my wallet, my phone  – I lose everything.

There was a blissful long past day when I didn’t have any of those things to lose.  Am I losing something more critical to my humanity than my keys, my wallet, and my cell phone?

I really hope that the Day will come when none of us, for any reason, will ever have to show up at a specific place at a specific time again.   When we finally have enough faith, when we finally have enough love, we will finally trust that if the person is a few minutes late, then there was probably a good reason for it — and the rest of us will just have to learn to be patient.  But this rat race, even creeping in to the most distant, far-removed country college town I could find – is not for the Human Race.  It’s not even for rats – but that’s what we make of ourselves when we run around like we’re doing.

Now granted I may have a wee bit of a chip on my aging shoulder, do ya think?   A certain member of my extended family doesn’t seem to have any trouble doing three things at once and racing around the Big City in her fancy car and doing all the things I used to do before my breakdown in 2004.   So some people are obviously more in tune with this level of mass demoralization than others.   But that extended family member makes all her decisions based on fear — not on love, or faith, or God — and these are the sorts of people who “succeed” in this world. 

Me – I was never quite able to manage large super-schedules including five towns on Tuesdays even before I decided to convert all my personal shortcomings into a world vision for humanity. 

So it’s not as though don’t have a subjective ax to grind, but I’m telling you — all this scheduling that we inflict upon each other’s bodies has nothing to do with the schedule of the One who scheduled the whole show before time began.   So I shall divert the course of my will in deference to the One to Whom it is wise my will must yield.

In other words, in conclusion:

I’m too old for this shit. 

Where’s my quiet life?   It sure isn’t in my head.   My head moves me so fast from one thought to another anyway, without the entire culture giving me the message I’m supposed to be moving even faster.

I suppose this is a disease of some sort and there’s some pill I’m supposed to take for it.  But we can discuss that at some further future time, when none of us is in a hurry.  In the meantime, you all have a good day, and a good week ahead.  And please — don’t move too fast on my account.   Peace be to all, and Amen.

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Tuesday Tuneup Five

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I have some pretty good ideas.  But I can’t say as I’ve figured it out completely, as of yet.

Q. So why have you summoned me?

A. Because it’s Tuesday.

Q. Um — isn’t it — Thursday?

A. Darn. Must have lost a couple days there. I know – it’s unlike me. I’ve just been very distracted of late.

Q. Distracted?   By what?

A. What do you think?   I’ve got my daughter coming up with her mother on Saturday, I’ve offered her Mom a place to stay here, my daughter’s going to get her own apartment and apply to the University here, I haven’t even seen my daughter since I left Berkeley almost two years ago, haven’t seen my ex in over fifteen years – that right there is enough to distract a guy.

Q. How did this family reunion, so to speak, come about so quickly?

A. I don’t remember.  I think it started when I began to want to help people to get out of the San Francisco Bay Area, especially if they were struggling or on the verge of homelessness, and basically nobody took me up on my offers until I made the right offer to the right person.

Q. Your ex?

A. Exactly.

Q. When was the last time you lived her with her?

A. If I counted right, I believe it was 29 years ago.

Q. Isn’t this a little bit unheard of?

A. It is indeed.  That’s what I like about it.  ;)

The Questioner is silent.

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