Home is Where You Lay Your Head

How Y’all doing?,

How is everyone doing this fine Autumn or Spring Day?.

Proverb 3:33 says, “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.

Today is a different subject altogether. As the title implies I will be chatting about home, and for most people that is a place to get out of the elements and be able to prepare a meal, take a hot shower, meet with other people, chat about the latest gossip at church, read a book, or even watch the grass grow while laying in a hammock. Home can be the place you sleep, the place you eat, the place you pray, the place you bathe, the place people know they will learn more about Jesus by your example.

Week after week our sleeping structure grew in size. Sweets and I first started out with just a three season tent, which I then attached poles to the outside so that we could build a porch area to cook under and keep boots and what not under a roof without having to smell them all night. It basically grew from a three person tent with a porch to a wigwam nine feet by eighteen feet.

after all…home is where you lay your head.”

One evening as Sweets and Gnome were making the evening meal, I was outside of the wigwam splitting the last three logs from the recent load drop. A young man came bounding down the trail to see where the smoke was coming from. The main trail entrance was visible from a local country western bar, though you could only see one site from the road and that was only do to the fact that Captain Pinky wanted the local police to be able to find him when he wanted to tattle on other members of Sanctuary. Anyhow, this young man came bounding down the trail to find where the wisps of smoke that he could smell were coming from, “something smells great”. He approached in the usual manner of someone that knew everything about everything. I was standing there in my Mickey Mousers, a pair of knee length shorts and a wife beater t-shirt with a double bit axe swinging through the air as I was splitting wood. This young man came to visit and was shocked to find someone dressed like I was, standing there splitting wood. He came to a sliding halt not two feet from me. I nearly hit him with the axe and and he felt the sharpness of my tongue as I laid into this city kid about getting so close to someone with an axe splitting logs.

He began asking questions and at the same time answering them with statements of what he expected the answers would be. I kindly grabbed his arm and walked him back about ten feet from me and proceeded to finish my evening work. Gnome hollered out asking what all the noise was. The kid spoke right up explaining that the noise was him and just couldn’t believe he was associated with noise. I cracked a smile and just finished my work. I collected the wood and started walking around the downdraft side of the wigwam. He must have thought I was walking around and when he didn’t see me come around we were able to follow his voice as he walked the same path I had taken, the difference was he kept going on around. When he realized he had managed to pass the door to get in he grew agitated. So Gnome stepped out just as the kid neared the entrance, grabbed hold of the kids arm and dragged him backwards into the wigwam. Stumbling as he was being dragged backwards he landed in one of our chairs and after a string of curse words and fumbling to get his hat and scarf from in front of his eyes he let out a yell, “where?”, “how?, “what the heck?”. He sat there for a moment as Sweets handed him a bowl of shredded pork stew with johnnycake and a cup of coffee. The shock on his face was something that got us all smiling. He took a deep breath and just as Sweets had handed bowls of stew to Gnome and myself, she grabbed on for herself; the young man took a bite. We informed him that the first person to eat says grace and since he enjoyed talking so much anyhow he was chosen. In his prayer we came to know he was humbled by what we did for him. He came out to visit a couple more times. His next two visits were nothing like his first. As his first continued we got to know him and the fact he had been at the bar on a couple of other occasions that y’all will read; the Episode of the Man with a Purse and the Episode of There are Tigers in There.

“after all…home is where you lay your head.”

I remember those days; steam would just roll off of my exposed skin, mind you this was round about the January of 2011 and the average snowfall per day was measured in feet more than inches most of that Winter. The local universities students would fill the place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Sunday nights were for mostly younger professionals out for a good time, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights were a good opportunity to just get a quick bite to eat some place close to home. Of course at the time as I said home was a skidrow style wigwam. We had the framework bound together by strips of plastic grocery bags, bits of twine, and it was covered with an old worn cabin tent and small catamaran boom tent. The boom tent had a velcro entrance so we had positioned that over the smoke hole in the roof so that ventilation was easier with still keeping out the snow and rain.

“after all…home is where you lay your head.”

The other structures in Wild West ranged in building materials; pallets, couches, mattresses, tarps, tents, plastic sheeting, brush, construction site scraps, shipping containers, steel folding chairs and 2 x 4s, carpet; all in all we had the shipping container that the Mayor stayed in, the mattress and army tent that Butch & Princess stay in, the pallet house that Bon Bon owned, pallet stacks that Captain Pinky added to daily, the pallet tunnels that many others stayed in. Any given night we had in excess of thirty people staying in Sanctuary. There was a common core of people that stayed there mostly every night and others that drifted from place to place. So many nights across the Greater Lansing area there was on average of three-hundred people staying in shelters and closer to three-thousand five hundred sleeping in some kind of structure. Every major area across this nation is like that every single night. People are finding pallets and cardboard to sleep under, park benches with newspapers to sleep on, tent floors to curl up in.

“The soft earth for a bed, covered with a blanket of stars, and a stone for a pillow.”

“The cold moisture of my bed draining my body of its once precious life.”

“My body has become frail and old, older than my years because of this life.”

Framing out my bed frame I see the branches swaying in the wind from a willow.”

“The blanket so beautiful brings no warmth to me bed, the chill of the Winter, I feel,”

“I have laid my head here in this place so often that my world is shorter now, I feel.”

“So much the more I look forward to my time laying my head upon this rock…”

“after all…home is where you lay your head.”

 

This I pray for each of you;

Dear Lord, May those that read this post never have to experience homelessness the way we have, we your forgotten children, those of us that have lived the life of the homeless. Amen.
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Yours faithfully, Elroy

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