Stories from the Mission... bit 4
Where was I? Ah yeah, getting lost in the city. 1458 south Canal street, hmmm, ok, I don't know the city that well, but I can see the Sears tower, so I know I am south of the Loop. I grab a bus that makes a turn from the direction I needed to go a block later, stunned, I sit a bit dumbfounded at my luck for a few blocks till I muster up the strength to get off. I cross the street and grab a bus back to where I first came up from underground. Eventually I find myself waiting with a crowd for a bus, but they are all jammed with people. I look at the long, sun drenched bridge I have to cross. (Writing this on January 1,2014, I now know that bridge well. It's the Roosevelt bridge and those buses are always jammed with people.) I look at the long, gentle arc that is totally exposed with no shade, growl out loud and trudge off. After what seemed likes hours and one more wrong turn, I walk up to the Pacific Garden mission building.
I felt dead. I would have been dead if it had been left up to me. God has given me gifts, he has shown me things that can create jobs and help the world. For years I had tried to get them out there my way to no avail. I would ask in frustrated prayer, "Lord, you know I want to help people, why won't you let the inventions bear fruit?" Time after time I would ask, implore, demand and even ask what to ask. I'm only slowly coming to realize what was stopping me was me. I was a house built on sand with no firm foundation at all. Given my old life, an influx of money would have invariably led to more booze and stronger drugs, a tide that would have washed away any footing I had. Give my old self a million dollars and I would have ended up a charred husk, a burnt match head, useless.
The mission didn't look at all like I thought it would. It is a big, solid and clean structure that greeted me on the inside with a wide inviting hallway who's floor is painted yellow. The PGM is a miracle. They get no federal funding, yet feed, shower and give beds to over 600 people a night. More than just temporary comfort, they also provide a life changing Bible program to those that want to try to get back on their feet.
When I had walked in, I had no idea of anything, no thought on what my future might be, and any wild thoughts of being 'rescued' from my situation had long ago faded. I merely existed. I stopped at the security kiosk and ask where to go. The guard could tell I was new and offered up a sack lunch and told to sit on a bench near by. The food was the best I had had in months, as the food at Read was nasty government surplus swill. Soon, a kindly grey haired old man called my name and waved me onto his tiny office. His name was Wendle Davis and within 5 minutes got me to smile for the first time in weeks. he explained that I could do like 90% of the men there and live on the edge, or I could join the Bible program and sleep in a separate, safer area upstairs, all I had to do was sign a 30 day agreement.
Now, every decision I had made in my life so far was wrong, so I wasn't in any hurry to go down any road too fast. I thanked Wendle and told him I'd read the paperwork and think about it. It took me an hour of reading and pondering on that bench, I was way too tired to walk anywhere, to finally decide to sign up. I literally had nothing left to loose.