July 5, 2018 Daniel and the Scripture

Daniel, a spare, gray-bearded energetic man, was leaning against the side of a building, reading Scripture.

He did not have a tent like so many other homeless San Franciscans. He stood stark and unprotected against the elements. Fortunately, it was a mild night.

All his possessions were lined up against the wall on the sidewalk next to him – boxes, luggage, piles of books and a plant.

 “Would you like a burrito”, I (Francine) called out to him. Immediately he snapped to attention and smiled.

“Yes thanks,” he gasped as he sprinted over to our car.

 “And some water?”

 “Yes,” he said, smiling broadly as he grabbed the bottle of H2O.

 Daniel quoted a verse of Scripture that underscored his gratitude for our donation, this humble sustenance.

 He stood alone on Folsom Street in the Potrero district. Across the street a police car was idling at the corner. We wondered if the authorities were shooing other homeless folks away, but we could not discern that.

On that mild and cheery twilight of July 5, we found more unhoused* folk on Duboce Street under the freeway.

Three or four tents were clumped together and another two down the street. Several of these tenants were sharing their humble digs. Some were solo.

We felt badly for a young woman on Alabama Street who seemed to be holed in a tent up by herself. We asked her to be careful and she said she would but all of us knew how extremely vulnerable women are to violence on the streets.

As we meted out the last of our 60 burritos, we remarked how every single recipient was gracious, polite and grateful. Under our breath we questioned if we could show such decency if we were in their place and hoped that we would never have to.

  • (in the business of helping the unhoused, we resist the term “homeless” because it raises a sense of distain and confers a stigma of hopelessness and despair)

Nelson Barry III