Sunday, March 18, 2012

Finding Mason Again

The forecast says there is a 100% chance of rain tonight. 100%. What should I do about Mason? He mentioned a long-term care mission in uptown called “First Aid” where he knew some people. They told him that as soon as his scabies cleared up they would let him in. I asked him how long that would be. He guessed about a week until it was completely gone. He went into excruciating detail about the sores, worms, and body lice that accompanied it.

He is somewhere close. So close. So close to my home. We are warm inside and he’s not. What should we do? My wife and I weigh the options. He could stay in our small one-bedroom apartment for the night. Is that going too far? Doesn’t Jesus want us to give up ourselves and our comfort for other people? But the scabies. And she’s pregnant. And the bathroom is located in the back of the master bedroom.

But the rain. And he is so frail. How cruel would it be to let him die on my doorstep?

Do we want this homeless guy to know exactly where we live? Will he come to us for handouts from now on? How do we even know if his story is legit? I noticed while he and I were talking he would nonchalantly bring up his needs in a way that seemed a little manipulative.
“Where are you going?”
“Starbuck huh? What does coffee go for these days?”
“I don’t really know, expensive though.”
“How long has it been since I’ve been in a Starbucks? Coffee was $2.15 when I was there last.”
“Would you like some coffee?”
“Del Taco over here has a good coffee with a senior discount.”
“Alright let’s go.”

It was raining; he was cold and wanted coffee. Is it so wrong to ask in a round-about way? But, what if he just goes around manipulating people to get stuff from them? What if none of his story is true?

100% chance of rain for the next two days.

All I can think about is when James says, “If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” Even if he is a con-artist and a liar he still shouldn’t have to sleep in the rain.

We decide to put him up in a cheap hotel for the night. I just have to find him first.

I go to his cart and find the previous bundle has been redistributed and organized throughout the cart. At least he’s seen the gift. Mason is nowhere to be found though. I search around the block. It’s getting dark now and the rain is pouring. I check the back alleys, front streets and parking lots around the barbershop. I finally catch up with him coming out of the Del Taco.

Mason is very appreciative of the things I left for him. I tell him that more rain is coming and that we want to put him up for the night. He is so humble and thankful that my misgivings about his character slowly begin to melt away. I pull my truck around, he carefully selects which belongings will come with him to the hotel, and off we go.

Mason reeks of urine and sweat. The best I can do is keep the air circulating in the cab to keep from gagging. The woman at the hotel is not excited to see us either. She reluctantly gives him a room.

He wheezes his way up the single flight of stairs, stopping twice to catch his breath. “Bronchitis,” he tells me. “And the early stages of emphysema.”

We chat for a little while. I convince him to call his friend at the mission to see about getting in as soon as he can. Mason promises to try. We chat a little more, about the Bible, about churches. He wants to meet with us to talk about Scripture soon. I think I would like that. It’s difficult to leave Mason again. He’s lonely. He just wants to talk to someone. But he’s not pushy or overpowering. He is grateful for the room. I promise to check in with him again on Sunday.


Dan Knoxville, TN said...

Dear Author, My heart has been pricked; how often have I living in the city asked myself these same questions. Yet unfortunately my responses have all to often been ones of ease, laziness, or fear. May God help me never be so careless with souls again. Thank you.

J. A. R. said...

It certainly wasn't an easy decision. We decided to help him out after a long deliberation which I tried to capture in the post. Even as I was driving him to the hotel I wasn't 100% convinced it was a good idea. I am glad that this experience was meaningful to you though. I hope it will be to other people as well.

David Scott said...

Great job, Josh! Glad I came to visit your blog. Thanks for the link to FACES OF THE HOMELESS. I hope you get by to see some of the interviews I filmed recently.

J. A. R. said...

Sure thing David. You are doing some good work.