Photo of smiling man

That smile!

I noticed a homeless guy last week. We were moving mats out of storage into a big rental truck, and something about it struck him funny. Maybe because we were a rag-tag group, and not the usual types for manual labor. I could tell we had struck a funny-bone moment, and said something to him. It was a pleasant exchange. Then he was back in a doorway this week. Not doing anything, not camping out. Just hanging. I said hi…

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Photo of feet with socks with holes in them


One of my favorite things about being out on the street is when we hand someone a pair of socks, and they are so in need of a new pair, they immediately pull their shoes off and change them out, in between words of disbelief and gratitude. ‘55’ was no different. That was the name he gave us, not that one in particular, but a number. We continued chatting for a bit as he took his boot off. He pulled…

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Photo of broken down van

Car camping in the city

When rent gets too high, people often move into their vehicle. It’s portable. Provides more comfort than a tent. But also sometimes can break down. And neighbors seem to hate having homeless people on their block. There are the usual complaints about crime, drugs, litter, defecation, and noise. The City of Seattle is of two minds. Compassion or enforcement? Neighborhood groups are kicking up a fuss – sometimes justifiable. But who is really vulnerable? It’s not like there are options…

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The story of Pedro

Pastor Bob Bradbury was one of the earliest Nightwatch outreach ministers, starting in 1967. He was a classmate of Bud Palmberg, our founder. Pastor Bob passed away in December, 2016, and his widow Jane Ann sent me this amazing story. He told the story on Father’s Day last year – his final sermon. I’m guessing he has told this story many times: The Story of Pedro in 1967 While coming upon First and Pike after midnight, Pastor Bob heard this…

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Psalm from the streets

Even when the knees hurt The hard drive crashes The shelter for 75 vulnerable men is cast into uncertainty; Even when the bank account is low and the car is no longer driveable, the rain is cold and the ice cream is forbidden; Even then, O Lord, will I praise you. Your works are marvelous, revealed in the smile of a stranger on the bus who jostled me here. My pen went awry on the page but the amends were…

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It gets personal

Twice in the last month I’ve run into people who are friends of mine. They are guys who have celebrated holidays at my house, volunteered at Nightwatch, eaten lunch with me numerous times. When I encountered them in their new situation, it was shocking. Immediately, my anxiety level went up. I find myself fretting about how we can help them. One needs medical attention, but has to agree to it. The other could easily live in my basement, if I…

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I didn’t look

I didn’t look. Stopped at the end of the freeway ramp, on my way, I didn’t look at the person standing by the side of the road with a sign. I didn’t see him, not at all. Not looking is second nature these days, when someone is asking for help by the side of the road. And so, I did not look. No need for the shrug, the nod, the single index finger lifted off the steering wheel or the…

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September 6, 2019
Photo of homeless man smiling
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