Hope for the Homeless Hope for All

There a joke about an American Indian I heard when I was a kid, called “Bowels No Move.”

There was an Indian, the joke goes, who refused to move his tepee when he was asked to move.

“Is Bowels going to move?”

“Bowels no move,” the Indian responded.

“Is Bowels going to move?”

“Bowels no move.”

This went on day after day, for several years, until one day when he was asked “Is Bowels going to move?”

“Bowels gotta move; tepee full of s***.”

Aren’t some of us like Bowels, when we continue with our destructive behavior, such as going on drunken binges, drug addiction, anger, resentment, nasty attitude towards others and on life in general and selfish, bad decisions that hurt ourselves and others around us?

Unfortunately, like Bowels, we stubbornly wallow in our manure — our self destructive behavior, until we hit rock bottom.  I see people around me, some of them friends, returning again and again to drinking, drugs, and other self destructive behavior.  A couple years ago, I fell into a pit after having continued in my wayward ways.

Once you start compromising your principles, and continue  this way unchecked, you begin a downward spiral.  It’s like falling into a black hole.  You can be sucked into sin at warp pace speed but you don’t feel like you are rapidly descending, as you’ve turned off the control switch and become oblivious to what you are doing.  You are out of control.  Indeed, I was.

The impulsive, seize the day behavior continued, and the manure mounted in my tent.  For the longest time, Bowels no move, despite loved ones asking me to come to my senses and think about  what I was doing.  But I persisted in my wayward ways.  I was the Captain of my ship.  Although I didn’t admit it, my rudder set me off course, losing my way.

I had abandoned my family.

Just before I almost completely lost my rudder, I lost my job of 12 years, my dog died, and I got into a fight with a psycho who was living at the house where I was living, who assaulted me verbally, then threatened me physically,  spitting on me and closing in on me.  I snapped and ended up grabbing my assailant and pushing her into some furniture.  I was arrested and went home, where I was not welcomed.

My funds ran dry, and I sought assistance.  I found the local Salvation Army food pantry.  I struggled to get food.  At night, my heart raced so much I almost called 911 for myself.  Like the Prodigal Son, I had squandered my heritage.  I was in solitary confinement at the bottom of a pit, wallowing in my own manure.

I was humbled, and still continue to be.

I ended up going to church at the Salvation Army Community Center, where I returned to God.

Psalm 40:2 New International Version (NIV)

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

Now starting to find my way, I found new friends, who helped me get back on the straight and narrow.  I was hurting, and I was blessed to have people around to help and comfort me.

I could not afford the Internet at the house so I used the Wi-Fi at the local library.  At the library, homeless people I recognized from the Salvation Army community meals invited me to other community meals.  I was in the right place at the right time.  I didn’t have enough food to feed myself and the community meals filled this gap.

I started hanging out with the homeless.  Like myself,  the homeless community is hurting.  Society shuns them, as if being homeless isn’t enough, and some of them have addiction problems with which they are struggling.

People were there for me, and still are, when I was hurting.  I want to be there for others.  I get frustrated at how some of them continue in self-destructive behavior, as I have, but they have to want to change.  When and how they do that is beyond my control.  The Lord controls the horizontal; God controls the vertical…  All I can do is try to help and be a good example.

2 Corinthians 5:20

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Sister Nicotine and the Holy Smokes

Cigarette smoking is more than an addiction to many — it’s a religion.

Although now I know that before a smoker opens a pack and taps it against his/her palm countlessly the purpose is to better pack the tobacco, this still strikes me as a ritual.  Many smokers religiously light up, like a panting deer drinking water at a stream.

I’ve had smokers approach me and offer me as much as $10 for one cigarette!  One difference between tobacco and heroin is that tobacco is legal.   And, as smokers have told me,  tobacco is harder to kick than heroin.  Heroine does, however, more quickly lead to anti social behavior such as stealing and job loss than does tobacco.  Cigarettes are a slow poison, and heavy use triggers sickness and work callouts.

I smoked as a young teenager for about a year.  Over that time I experienced more severe and more frequent sore throats and colds.  I only smoked between 1-2 packs a week, and, like a former president, I didn’t inhale (not very deeply, except when I did the trick where you take a long drag on a cigarette, drink something, then blow the smoke out).

Just a qualification, smoking has a more negative affect on some people more than others.  And like alcohol, not everyone gets addicted, but many do.

Most of the participants in the Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey program I’m in have alcohol addiction problems.


The regulars have been able to keep their drinking problem at bay, but not smoking.  After our one hour long meeting, the smokers light up immediately after leaving the building.  When we met outside a couple of times, they lit up.

I’m always been puzzled when I see homeless people smoking.  Although they can’t afford a place to live, and have trouble getting food (although in Lower Bucks County, PA, between the state and benevolent people, they usually are provided for) they manage somehow to find cigarettes.  To save money, some of them make their own.  But some stoop to picking butts off the ground and out of ashtrays.

I read in the book Narcotics Anonymous a personal testimony of a former druggie that he had no moral compass with his addiction —  that he would stoop to anything, including stealing from his own mother!

A homeless friend of mine found a few bucks.  Instead of me buying her meals, I asked her to use that money to feed herself.  A few days after she found the money, she asked me for money for coffee, as she said she used up the money she found.  That night, after she made an excuse about being tied up for awhile, I found her standing in line in a store.  Evidently, she lied about not having any money left so she could use it to buy cigarettes.  She has lung cancer but still smokes!  The doctor’s assistant told her that smoking works against the chemo and other treatments she’s been getting.

Recently, I overheard a conversation about some drug that gets people very high, very cheaply.  And it is a cheap thrill, as I heard a guy say that this drug destroys people much more quickly than other drugs.  This doesn’t matter, he explained, because all the user is interested in is getting high.  Nothing else matters.

Other than the physical addiction to tobacco, there’s an underlying character flaw that is at the root of the problem.  Asking God to help with one’s character flaws is part of the 12 steps in the 12 step program I’m in for anxiety/pent up anger.

A large part of healing from physical sickness, especially cancer, is one’s attitude.  This is why it’s important to give sick people hope.   Being right spiritually is a matter of rejecting what just feels good or just attracts you but is not good for you, like a cockroach dining at a bait trap where it likes the cuisine but is poisoned.  Smokers, and other addicts, are slowly poisoning themselves.

Sister Nicotine and the Holy Smokes is a false religion.  To restore people to health, mentally and physically, we need to reject the false gods of the world and turn to a higher power than ourselves, God.  Healing is not instant, in fact it’s slow, but if one hangs in there, he/she will be better off.

I, for one, have found something more than cheap thrills that matters.