By the grace of God, David has survived.
The late winter period in Reno was close to hell on earth. The city has a terrific ghetto that includes three dining rooms and three shelters on Record Street.
During his nine and a half months of homelessness, by faith and Christian practice he has survived. Fortitude, prayer, and attempting to live like a saint was difficult. How in the world did he make it through it all? By dealing with chronic illnesses, mental anguish, sleep apnea, physical pain, and keeping God first in his life.
Similarly to his patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, he lived an austere life among the poor and homeless. It seemed appropriate that he not resort to begging or complaining; but be humble and grateful for the regular hot meals offered five times a week by the Extended Table at the Methodist Church and daytime support of the Feed My Sheep ministry.
He came to Garfield County seeking help from emergency rooms. Within eight hours after getting off the eastbound train, he was seen at Valley View Hospital. After three consecutive nightly visits, he was ordered not to come back or the local police would arrest him for trespassing.
In two months, he was more than 15 pounds underweight!
Similarly to the life of St. Francis, he did not care for his health like he should. Food was regularly eaten that caused gastrointestinal problems and often stomach aches.
His weight dropped to the lowest it has been since high school. In March 2015, he weighed only 162 pounds (in 2004 his weight was 335 lbs.).
David remembers sleeping under the stars and waking up several times many nights. His exposed ribs were so sore on the left side for lying on top of them on the hillside.
You might think that he had nowhere to turn; the priests of St. Stephens were there for counseling and celebrating mass every day.
He did not complain, prayed to stay in a constant state of gratitude, helping those disadvantaged, keeping out of harm’s way, denying himself eyeglasses, clothing, dental care, and footwear that he needed, making do with what he had, saving money from his monthly Social Security check, searching for affordable housing, and keeping a positive attitude.
Psalm 142 demonstrates the petitioner’s trust in God:
1 I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
2 I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.
4 Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
5 I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me
It was in June that he got off the eastbound California Zephyr with health problems. He has remained in town getting good medical help. Recently, he was diagnosed with three cavities. When you are homeless, you don’t have much control over what is available to eat. Dental hygiene suffers, too.
One morning he awoke soaked by a hard and heavy falling nocturnal rain. He had attempted to sleep inside two trash bags that night on Lookout Mountain. Shaking uncontrollably, David was able to walk back at daybreak into town with his wet sleeping bag and suitcase and backpack filled with rain-saturated clothing.
This was not his low point.
One day, the GSPD woke him up at 2:20 a.m. in front of St. Stephens Catholic Church and threw him in jail. It seems like by being homeless in Glenwood Springs, he was also a criminal. That 16-hour Friday (August First) stay in County Jail was very painful. His jailers would not offer him any of his prescription medicine. So painful and disoriented, he lost all track of time and laid in the cell cold with chronic back and gastrointestinal distress.
By the grace of God, a municipal judge opened court on a Friday afternoon and arranged for bail on his own reconnaissance. Thus he would not have to spend the entire weekend in lockup.
The local police department had been bird-dogging his homeless activities since the second day he was in Glenwood Springs. Near the Phillips 66 station, he was stopped while walking by. He was questioned and the police officer took his photograph – no crime had been committed, though.
He first came to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver on June 24. On October 2, he returned and received three bags and one box of groceries from Lift Up.
In the 15 weeks of homelessness, he survived:
- bear attacks,
- waves of bugs and insects,
- sunstroke (twice),
- hunger and thirst,
- getting run over by trucks that could not have been seen,
- skunk sprays,
- cold night temperatures,
- inclimate weather,
- getting shot by a waitress at a Rifle restaurant,
- homeless profiling,
- police brutality,
- falling off a cliff while sleepwalking,
- ill-prepared food and dysentery,
- misplaced anger and violence,
- religious prejudice,
- mountain lions,
- the municipal judicial system,
- local jails,
- unreliable public transportation,
- verbal threats,
- drunken drivers,
- being thrown out of the emergency room,
- allergy reactions and anaphylactic shock,
- running out of medicine,
- or being swept downstream in the rapidly flowing river.
D. A. D. Publishing & Associates of Colorado
– for musement only –