Keep on Going by Kaze

Keep on Going by Kaze

     Roy talks to the other men about how violence seems to be growing. Craig answers,  “They don’t have a spark in them that reminds them that we depend on each other’s kindness. I have a sister addicted to cocaine who acts like this. She lives down South in a haze. She lets her children eat dirt because she can’t get the energy to care.”

    Bruce says, “I have a younger brother who lives in such bitterness that I think he can’t see anyone’s pain, he can only feel hate. For me, I see lots of different people who are happy whenever they can be with friends who will share with them and help keep things safe at night. I think too many want too much and they don’t know how to be happy with what they got.”

     I keep on going, not because I see a solution to homelessness, poverty or violence but because I hear people who are learning from their journey, no matter how hard it is.

 

Ordinary Things by Kaze

Ordinary Things by Kaze

     A man with a haggard expression looks at me.  He starts talking and I don’t understand him at first. Finally I decipher his mumbling “I used to have a Saturn like that but I had to sell it. What year is yours? Does it run well?”

     “It’s a 97 Saturn, very basic with no frills and really good on gas,” I reply.

     “How about oil?” he asks.

     I laugh, “Like all Saturn’s it eats gas.”

     He laughs and tells me about the car he used to have. He finishes abruptly and says “Well, I gotta go now. Have a good day.” He turns down my offer of coffee and  walks away sad.

     When I first started with the Native youth group, I kept summarizing the one or two things I wanted them to know so they could grasp a new kind of life.  I told them many times that they only needed to know that they were valued and cherished for who they are and that they had a future, they could change.

     As I meet those who live on the streets, this has not changed. People still yearn to hear that they are valuable and that they and their situation can change. For this man, he wanted to claim that he and I belong to the same Saturn car club. Both of us had the resources to buy and maintain a car (even though I needed some recent help in car repair). We are alike. We both have value, even if it is in a 1997 Saturn car with no automatic features.

  Beneath his words, this echoes: “I had a car like that. I used to be someone with a car. I want to talk about the car. I want someone to know that I used to matter.”

     The second part he did not believe. He did not have hope that his life was something more than a dead end—he did not see change in the future.

     I carry with me a little notebook of numbers—where to get food, shelter, medical help, etc. Perhaps that is my way of pointing to possible change. I not sure.

     If I cannot cause systemic change in the homeless situation, then I can offer value and hope to those I meet. For strange reasons that I don’t understand, I feel hopeful when I can talk to people on ordinary things.

 

Same Path by Kaze

Same Path   by   Kaze

    Borg:  “All religions have a path to the same place but that place is not heaven or the afterlife, it is to the sacred as we each experience it.”

     This quote has shaped my consciousness. When I lived with the Australian Aborigines, or the indigenous in Hong Kong, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Zambia, Peru, Jamaica, Japan, and Korea, I focused first on the social and economic issues. As I worked at digging water wells, building schools, making roads, and teaching concepts, I found that I missed something fundamental. At first, I thought it was motivation, or cultural differences.

    Now, I see something else. Everyone I encountered had been touched by something deep that pulled them into a different level of purpose. Everyone I meet has a glimmer of something profound that can guide them into new habits, beliefs and practices. Often that reflective urge can be squelched.

     In 1969, I lived in Northern Territory, Australia with an Aboriginal family at Coker Island. Sally and I talked on the porch, listening to the distant sounds of the digeridoo and clapping sticks. Finally, she says, “Why do others think we are incapable of governing our own people and training our own children? They call us primitive.” She falls silent.

     I mutter something about different cultures judging by technology and economic success.

     Sally asks, “How do you judge us?”

     I thought about this a long time. “Since I first met your people, I perceive an intense understanding of the importance of the land and of your values. When I sit here in the village, I feel surrounded with a sense of mystery and bottomless meaning. I find myself fascinated by the way you dance your stories. I don’t know what it means. I just feel awesome being here.” I give a silly laugh, not knowing what to say.

     Now in 2017,  48 years later, I know what I wanted to say.

     I lived among a people who told stories about the sacred in every event and landmark. I didn’t realize that is why I was so attracted to their stories and style. I was drawn to their path to the sacred.

 

 

The Vulnerable Kaze

Vulnerable by Kaze Gadway

      As I chat with some street people, a man races over to me and cries out. “A girl over here has fainted. Can you help us?”

      I ran with him and see a woman collapsed on the ground. I call 911 and bathe her face and hands with water. She comes to and I let her sip some water. The ambulance comes and I drive with her man friend to the emergency room.      

     The nurse asks me “Do you know her. Does she have any I.D.”

     “No,” I say.

     “Well, we have to take her but it is a waste of time. She is just dehydrated,” says the nurse.

     I sit with them after she receives treatment. “I’m sorry about the nurse. Not everyone is nice to homeless people,” I say.

      “Yeah, we know,” replied the boy.

     “Do you have any ideas of what you will do next?” I ask.

     “We have some friends who will let us spend the night with them,” says the young man. “Then we have to find some people we can trust so we are not just by ourselves.

         That’s it. Another day, another risk on the streets, especially for young women.

     They seemed resigned to it. They support each other. They have friends. They have a small plan. They are going to survive. What I hope is that they can break the cycle of poverty and take a giant step away from the streets.

     No, I don’t know how they are going to do that. I will work with more organizations, make more contacts, find more opportunities and hope that some will make it. Meanwhile I keep handing out water bottles.

Summer by Jay Begay (SJY)

Summertime by Jay Begay of Spirit Journey Youth

     I used to look forward to summer–a time of doing fun stuff or mission trips.

     Now I see too many homeless kids out of school and nothing to do. With the recent heat wave, I see children suffering as stores and gas stations refuse to let street people inside where it is cool.

     Some churches provide free lunches. Some park centers offer fun activities for those who can get to the park. We hand out water.

     Thanks to all who have sent us Walmart cards. We buy powdered juice and fill up empty plastic bottles, freeze them and hand them out. We also buy popsicles, freeze them and hand those out.

      It is no wonder that the girls and boys turn to prostitution in order to survive. Being kept from a cool place is abuse when the heat rises above 100.

      It is very hard on parents who cannot feed and shelter their children. It is hard on us to watch it.

 

Being Played

Being Played  by Kaze Gadway

  Knowing well how much ridicule is expressed toward the homeless, I could hear my  internal voice saying, “That’s just wrong.”

     And there is little I can do about it. I have collected some phrases I can use when I hear ridicule. “I find that kind of ridicule diminishes me.” “I remember when ridicule was directed toward me. I don’t find it funny.” “Whoa! That kind of talk creeps me out.” “I don’t go with ridicule.”

     I’m not  trying to change or cure the person who does the ridicule. I am making a statement that ridicule is not acceptable.

     Other things I can do is to point out the strengths of the homeless in even in the smallest ways. “They know how to survive.” They share with each other.” “They are dealing with lack of money which is the same problem I have.”

     These are short term responses. I have to change my own attitudes first so that I publicly show respect for every person I encounter.

     I can write more about respect and improvement in mental health.

     I can vote for representatives our government who show respect.

     I can support people and agencies who show respect.

     I am open to other suggestions.

Major Skill by Kaze

Major Skill   by Kaze Gadway

     It rains so I sit under a store awning with some of my street people. Bobby adjusts his walker and his earphones. I can hear the rapid beat of the music leaking out.

     “Does your music help you manage the disadvantages of being on the street?” I ask.

     He takes off his ear phone and leans on his walker. “When I first got here, I was just angry about having to walk so far to get food or shelter. I stayed angry for almost a year.”

     I look up at him. “What changed?”

     “I met someone that year who seemed like everything rolled off of him. He had a calmness to him. I asked him how he did it. He told me that helping new people to the street to adjust gave him confidence to handle his own situation. I thought about that for a long time. I tried it. I discovered that it gave me more confidence. Situations don’t seem so hard to handle now.”  He grins self-consciously tilting his head to the left.

    I give him a thump up. “That remains a major skill that many never learn. Congrats.”

   He pats me on the shoulder and limps off.

   I think long and hard about this life skill that bypasses so many people.

   What a day to find wonder.

 

 

Major skill is confidence in your ability to handle situations.