There is this fellow vet who flies a sign on SE Washington next to the 205 overpass. I usually give him a couple of bucks when I see him. Today I saw him but not at his normal spot, he was on the overpass and he was talking to this girl and as I drove by I saw she was on wrong side of the rail.
My friend looked at me and gave me the sign that she was going to jump.
I pulled over hit the flashers and came towards her. “LEAVE ME ALONE! GOD TOLD ME TO KILL MYSELF.”
While she was yelling at me my friend moved closer.
A woman pulled up with her window down. “Call 911″ I said, “tell them we have a suicide attempt in progress” and she put in the call as she drove off.
Now while she was yelling at my friend, and I got a couple of feet closer. She turned towards me and I said “God does not want you dead. If He wanted you dead he would not ruin someone elese’s life by having you jump in front of their car. He’d just make you stop breathing. Besides why would he let His Son die for your sins and promise you life and life in abundance. No it ain’t God you’ve been hearin’ kid its the Devil. He likes to make people THINK they’re hearing God when it’s really just him. His whole gig is to kill us all off.”
“I don’t believe in the Devil,” she said.
While I’m I talking, I am very slowly creeping forward and my buddy is doing the same, It has been almost 2 hours and no police, finally we figure we are close enough and we make our grab and pull her back over the rail and she is kickin’ and screaming and she is no small woman. Finally I just sit on her and pin her down annnnnnnnd then the cops show up. They put her in zip ties and then a ambulance shows up and she is loaded up and whisked away…………
The police took our statements but never told us what took so long for them to get there.But one of the paramedics told me she’s down this before and this is her way of getting some attention, he guessed.
So tell me, somebody, where is Iron man or Spiderman or Mr. Incredible, because I am getting too old for this stuff. My arms and back are aching something fierce.
Eugenia has been coming to Redbarn for a few months with her son, Aaron. She is in her sixties and disabled, able to walk slowly only with a walker. They had been staying by a barber shop (with permission) most nights to keep out of the rain. Last month, a policeman approached them and told them they had to vacate the premises, because even with permission they are not allowed to camp. She responded sweetly, because that’s the kind of person she is, but the officer insisted that she was not excluded from the city of Gresham for thirty days. If he found her in Gresham, for any reason, he would arrest her.
She was in contact with all the agencies that might be able to get her housing or help, but the waiting lists are long and there is months before they will get to her.
That evening she came to Redbarn literally shaking. She didn’t think that she could take care of her dogs without a regular place to stay, without Anawim providing support with the day shelter. I told her that the police officer couldn’t legally exclude her from the city. That he didn’t actually give her a ticket, just a threat.
But for the last few weeks, her health deteriorated. She started staying overnight in Portland, and then returning to Gresham during the day, and the extra travel took it out of her. Last Saturday her legs were bloated and she couldn’t keep her eyes open, exhausted. I spoke with her, but she couldn’t focus on the conversation. A couple people noticed her condition and offered to take her to the hospital, but she refused, saying that she would be okay, she just needed to sleep. She left our facility walking slowly, with her son and dogs in tow.
She only made it about a half mile away from Redbarn before she collapsed from her exhaustion and died.
I write this for all the grandmothers who are desperately trying to get off the street, but can’t seem to find a way. I know of a couple that were snatched from death, but just as many who didn’t make it. Disabled people should be gotten off the street. Today.
I have over the years identified myself as Celtic and I wear a Celtic cross. It is the cross with the circle that surrounds the intersection of the cross. Many folk come up and hold it and look at the intricate knot emblazon upon it’s surface and some are curious as to what the circle stands for. Is it a halo glorifying Christ? some ask.
So if ye be wondering about the circle, here is the way of it:
It is a reminder.
There was once a day when Jesus was sitting and a group of mothers came with their children to see Jesus and the disciples being full of themselves block the way and began telling the mothers not to be bothering the Teacher with a bunch of …….kids. But Jesus, being Jesus and you know hep to his surroundings, rebuked the disciples and said let the children come to me.
Then he blessed the kids and their mothers and then He told his disciples that any one who would stop one of these little ones from coming to him, that it would be better for that person to tie a mill stone around their neck and jump into the deepest part of the sea.
So the circle that surrounds the intersection of the cross is a reminder to us about not being and obstruction but rather a funnel and some times a sieve.
Why a sieve? Well that will be answered on another time.
When the Son of Man comes, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne and divide the gentiles before him, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He shall say to those on his right, “Blessed are you, chosen of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you! For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was naked and you clothed me. I was a stranger and you invited me into your home. I was sick and you came to me. I was in prison and you visited me. Enter into my rest.” And they shall reply, “Lord, when were you hungry and thirsty and we gave something to you? When were you naked and we clothed you? When were you a stranger and we welcomed you? When were you sick or in prison and we visited you?” The King will say, “In as much as you did it to one of these, my brothers, so you did it to me.”
This is a pretty familiar passage. And we are pretty sure we know what to do with it—give food and clothes and shelter and healing to people. To visit people in prison. The church has been doing these things for centuries, millennia, so we don’t need to learn these lessons, right?
Well, if that’s all we get out if the passage, we still have something to learn. We need to learn that Jesus is a ninja master.
- Jesus is among us, now.
No, don’t bother looking around the auditorium. You wouldn’t recognize him. But he is here, possibly right next to us. Not just in spirit, either. He is a person whom you recognize, a person you have met. It’s just that he doesn’t have the classic Jesus look. He might be an old man, a little girl, a smelly street person, a beautiful woman, a black pastor, a Hispanic immigrant, a single mom. All we know is that Jesus is in need. That’s the only clue we have. And he is looking at our response to him.
- Jesus is in disguise
Jesus is not going to be who we think. We may look at him and think he’s a drug addict, a lazy bum, a person who takes advantage of the system. We may think he is a false teacher, a liar, an alcoholic, a party animal, a sexual deviant—because that’s what some people thought he was the first time he came, so that’s still what some people think. Some will listen to the rumors and think he is a thief, a secret wealthy person, a con man, or the face of Satan himself. All these rumors and speculations are part of his disguise to make you think that you need to keep your distance from him. The fact is, he is helpless. He makes himself helpless. For your sake.
- Jesus is the master trainer
Jesus lives in disguise among us in order to train us to be people of mercy. The weapons of our battle is free food, clothing and water. Free rooms to host those who can’t pay. Our time given to those in the most desperate circumstances. And these weapons must be given to the most unlikely people—desperate drug dealers, prostituting paupers, illegal immigrants, travelling preachers with no shoes and a bad speaking voice, woodsmen. People who can’t budget, whose money runs through their fingers like water, who couldn’t make ends meet even if they had twenty feet to spare, people whom even Oprah would have a hard time liking. Why are we helping these people? Because they might be Jesus. Just maybe. Probably not, but you never know. Because Jesus has shown up in more surprising places than these, and we can’t be too careful. In this way, because of his disguise and his demand to help him in whatever disguise he’s in, we learn to live generously to whomever comes in need. We learn to be merciful to the undeserving, to be less judgmental, to be open-hearted people.
- Jesus is a master plotter.
The odd thing, is that Jesus isn’t doing all this for the sake of the needy, although that doesn’t hurt. He isn’t training us for our own sake, even, although he loves us and wants to see us be the best we can be. In the end, Jesus is doing this for his kingdom. The stunning point of Jesus’ mission is not that he is creating a whole nation of open hearted, generous people. He separates people based on their ability to be generous to those unlikely to deserve it. Open your mind, for a bit, and consider the imagination of Jesus.
He has in mind a huge nation full only of the most giving, merciful, compassionate and thoughtful people. A whole nation full of people ready to give their own plate of food at the first sign of a person in hunger. A kingdom where every individual is open to give a space in their house, if they have it. Can you imagine what a population like that would be?
- A nation without hunger, because everyone is ready to help the hungry, without selfishness.
- A nation without nakedness, because everyone is willing to give or to make what other’s need.
- A nation without homelessness because every home is open and the owners welcoming to anyone in need.
- A nation without sickness, because all are willing to set their own time and knowledge and power to those who are sick.
- A nation without prisons, because the selfish are banished and the needy have all their needs met—even people to spend time with them.
- It is easy to mistake Jesus’ purpose
Jesus’ ultimate purpose is to establish a kingdom of generosity and mercy and love. We can so easily lose the game, because we never understood the ultimate goal of the game.
Suppose that Monopoly had a special rule, that anyone who went broke during the game would instantly receive all the money from the current winner. Those who played Monopoly normally would end up losing the game, because they would think the purpose was to get more money, when really they’d progress better if they had less money.
That’s how most people play Christianity—a game only roughly based on Jesus, but with a different purpose in mind. Some people play the game Christianity as if those who believe the right things win. Some people play the game as if those who go to the right church win. Some people play as if they can obey the right laws, then they win. Some actually play as if they could be successful in this life, they will win the game. Others as if they have enough faith, they will win.
But Jesus… and the rest of the Bible, interestingly enough… say that God judges only on deeds, not on religious ritual or even faith. And the kind of deeds he judges on aren’t this or that law, but actions of mercy and generosity, especially to those in need. The final rule of the game of Jesus is those who display the quality of mercy, compassion and generosity to the needy are those who win. No one else does.
- So anyone who is generous only to those who are not in need, they didn’t give to Jesus, so they lose.
- Those who judge those in need, for whatever reason, they judged Jesus, so they lose.
- Those who ignore the needy because they have better things to do, they ignored Jesus, so they lose.
- Those who spend days studying the scriptures, teaching them, but fails to help the poor, they failed Jesus, so they lose.
- Those who praise God day in and day out, but can’t find time for the needy, they didn’t have time for Jesus so they lose.
- Those who give everything to a church who somehow fails to give to the poor, they failed to give to Jesus, so they lose.
- Those who have suffered all their lives and kept everything they had to themselves so they could survive, they kept everything from Jesus so they lose.
- Those who used their smarts and energy to build up a kingdom for themselves and those who were smart and strong enough to work with him, and never needed anything—they lose.
The only ones who win are the generous.
No matter what religion, if they used their religion to learn to be more giving to those in need, they win.
No matter what theology, if they use their theology to be more generous to the poor, they win.
No matter whether rich or poor, if they surrendered all they had to those who had less than they, they win.
Be a winner. Use what you have been given to help those in need.
In the Celtic Christian Theology we believe we have a responsibility to the whole of creation not just humankind. Kind of, “The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof*. So having said that let me share a really cool event that happen today as I was driving home from Church.
So, I was driving down NE Glisan and was just crossing over the 205 freeway, when this group of ravens who were feasting on some road kill launched into the air. At the same time a Trimet Bus was heading west bound and one of the ravens, who was late in his launch, bounced off the Bus’s windshield and fell directly into the path of my truck. Well, I hit the brakes and the emergency flashers and put the truck into park.
I jumped out, scooped up the raven who was unconscious, plopped him into the passenger seat while the car behind me was expressing their hot displeasure by leaning on their horn. Once I was in the truck, I turned off the flashers popped into drive and took off. I took the first street which happen to have a Baptist Church on the corner and a parking lot behind it. There were about a half dozen high school and junior high aged kids there and so I parked away from them got out went around to the passenger side and picked up the raven and placed him on the hood so I could look him over.
So I am checking out the unconscious bird and there is the flutter of wings and soon I have a half dozen ravens on the hood and roof of my truck, watching me examine their comrade. Before I was done there were about 20 birds in all some circling some on the ground near my feet. They are all quiet, except for some clicking and twrilling sounds from their throats. Well the patient did not appear to have any broken bones and was just knocked out. I spent about 5 minutes stroking his head and finally his eyes rolled and he fluttered and tried to stand and a couple of ravens stepped forward to steady him. About a minute later he tried out his wings and then launched along with the rest of the flock. Away they all flew up to the rooftop of the VA medical clinic.
Now while all this was going on there was the audience from the Baptist Church. A man came over to see if I was alright and when I tried to explain and brought out the part about Celtic theology the look on his face as he was backing away was that I was definitely some kind of Pagan.
None-the-less it was a very cool experience. One of the ravens were so close I could feel his/or her feathers touching my beard. There was no feeling of malice, just concern.