My spiritual journey has always been about standing up for the voiceless and disempowered. My desire to be of service has brought me face to face with the worst of society many times. I had what I call my “political awakening” two years ago when fate and the Universe got together to open my eyes to the reality of what I had always just chalked up to prophecy waiting to play itself out.
We were taking a road trip to California during the Spring of 2014. After stopping in Denver for a night, we decided to check out Boulder. I don’t know that we would have even stayed in Boulder overnight if it hadn’t been for “losing the car”. After walking around one night with my radar on high alert for the potential of getting robbed in a strange city, it was one small misstep that cost us almost 2 months on the streets. My boyfriend and I had become separated when I went to retrieve the car. The following is an excerpt from a much larger story.
The traffic and street layout in Boulder is a little tricky. I first parked near the juvenile detention center until I realized the car would probably get towed. I then moved to a side street but by this time my head was swimming with anxiety and those weird energy pulls were making it very difficult to concentrate. It’s like Boulder has a vortex or a portal on every other street. After a night and most of the day on my own in this strange city with no sleep and no idea if my boyfriend was alive or dead, all my thoughts were focused on getting to him.
I didn’t write down the name of the street I parked on. And for some dumb ass reason, I did not take the phone with me. We found each other after a half hour of searching and it was only after another hour of hanging out and hearing his story of how he spent his first night on the streets that we thought to go look for the car. By then I couldn’t be sure if I had left it in the juvenile center parking lot or a side street ….I truly and simply forgot, like it was wiped from my memory. In retrospect, Boulder felt very much like I had slipped into another dimension, another timeline that my normal mode of function was not equipped to handle.
We talked to the police numerous times about the missing car, about being stranded in their city. They were no help. It is still hard to believe how little we were believed. Without the car, we were also without a phone, since that was where I left it. Finding food was still an issue and we were down to scraps and “white-box” donations from the occasional good Samaritan.
So the fasting and the fear and the effects of the altitude were taking their toll. I survived by treating it as a spiritual vision quest and I received answers to some questions that have only raised more questions. Thanks a lot physics. I went into full on spirit mode, like walking talking meditation meets shamanic dance. My eyes, all three of them (or 10 of them?), were wide open and I took note of everything. It felt like I was in a reality show from outer space, The Hunger Games meets Big Brother type shit with a spiritual twist just for fun. Whoever they are, I’m sure they’re making mad bank.
One day after about a week of trying to survive sleeping in the elements, walking all day, every day, with nothing to eat, Richard offered to buy me some food. He saved my life and sanity with that gesture. Do you realize we were starving in front of wealthy Americans who ignored us outright and a homeless man shared his limited food stamps with me? Talk about waking up the hard way. My boyfriend became fast friends with Burt, the wise old enigma who really taught us the truth about life in America from the bottom up.
During the month of street life in Boulder, we learned some key survival skills. My boyfriend had found an empty garage under Burt’s tutelage and this is where we slept for a couple of weeks. Maybe three. It was a much needed respite from the elements. Spring time in Boulder, Colorado is not even kind of warm at night. We pulled a 500-dollar twin mattress from a dumpster and had a semblance of a home base and solitude. Burt and Richard often stayed in the garage with us, so we felt safer as well. Without a sense of comradery and community, homelessness is a vicious reality.
Burt could always dumpster dive some edible food and since my boyfriend reminded him of the son he’d lost, I believe we offered him a sense of family that he had sorely missed. He filled us in on some truths that most Americans will always be too asleep to handle, those ex-vets know things, my friends, they know. This is (beyond any shadow of a doubt in my mind) why they are left on the streets to die.
Both Burt and Richard were phenomenal artists. Burt had a sketchbook full of drawings and comics that were truly amazing. He had studied the Mayan codex that was kept at the University library and we had a grand old time deciphering and taking notes. They both kept us motivated and with Burt’s panache for finding things, I was still making art along the way with his dumpster dived treasures, even sold a couple of small watercolors for $5 each and we all ate a hot meal that day. They were also avid readers and excellent sources of philosophical conversation and wisdom.
KD and Tony were much scarier old timers. Tony had spent most of his life in prison. He hated women with a ferocity I’ve not seen before or since. It didn’t take long, however, for him to realize I was something different. I left him speechless on more than one occasion. From our first meeting where he declared his undying hatred of women 2 inches from my face and very loudly, where I simply and honestly replied, “yes, women often suck, I understand and don’t particularly care for them myself. They flaunt their physical wares far more often than their divine countenance or their ability to love.”
To one of our last meetings where he laid into my boyfriend on the importance of protecting me and standing up to any asshole who talked shit about me. He threatened him with some horrifying images of violence but his heart was in the right place. He literally knew nothing but hate and violence. Yet his spirit was not dead. There were a couple young homeless girls he also protected. They were the kind of beautiful that needed protection so they didn’t become pervert fodder.
I stood in the way of his rage one night when it was directed at KD. He said something about getting a gun and blah, blah, blah…but I know when the Lord is allowing me to protect someone and I stood my ground. So Tony backed down out of sheer confusion, I’m sure. I found out later that KD had been flirting with one of those young protectees and nearly lost his life over it.
The reason I was protecting KD became clear to me in the coming days. He had some old warrants and it was only a matter of time before he was popped. I walked with him on two occasions and that man confessed his sins. I am not a pastor. I am not a priest. But I played that role for him and allowed God to witness it. Because I was there. Because I could. Because he trusted me with it. I talked with him about his daughter and most importantly I talked with him about God. It was less than 48 hours later that he was taken in to serve prison time. He was going in for assaulting an officer, the chances of him coming back out are not likely. I love you KD, wherever you are.
Something I’ve noticed about the Big Guy, the Universal et al, is He will use any willing soul to express His love and mercy to anyone receptive or in need of it. I am wholeheartedly and unabashedly addicted to being of service in this way, because while showing someone else God’s infinite love, I always feel loved and special myself. There is a clear and palpable feeling of peace and comfort in those shared moments that is simply indescribable.
I was recognized for this spiritual calling by my fellow street dwellers and it was with relief and joy that I was able to freely give that love, compassion and counseling to other “bums” I met along the way …for the first time in my life, no holds barred, I just let that Source love flow. My life had a purpose that superseded the need for a home and a 9-5, which is really all any of us want isn’t it, a life with purpose? When I faced judgement and contempt from passersby, I met it head on with honest reactions instead of the victim mentality I suffer under now. One of the most harrowing experiences of my life has also turned out to be one of the most beneficial and fulfilling.
I don’t think many people, if any, would choose to be homeless and adrift of society if given a way out that was plausible. Unfortunately, our society fails to realize how far we are from accommodating our vulnerable and/or down on their luck citizens. The pathways out of homelessness are few and far between. There are more hoops to jump through than the oldest circus animal has ever had to experience. You basically have to change -utterly- before you are given help. You must swallow the indoctrination hook, line and sinker just like a child. You are forced to trust a system that says these changes will fix everything while knowing that this is the same system that has already failed you.
Street life is tough. It is not to be taken lightly. We were in the thick of things with criminals. We heard stories of murder, we knew who the predators were and some of them were down right frightening. For the most part we were safe with Burt, Richard and Tony but these guys could be just as cold and calculating as the rest, they just happened to like us. Tony would talk his way into or sneak into some of the college parties, steal their booze and bring it back to share with his tribe. He was absolutely an alcoholic and didn’t have much to lose after 30 years in prison.
Once you’ve committed a crime and done time, renewing your place in society is nearly impossible. My boyfriend has a misdemeanor for smoking pot as a college student. We’ve been denied apartments because of that, even though we are currently in a state where recreational marijuana is legal. Young people do not understand how thoroughly even little mistakes can alter their lives. I don’t know that the general population really gets how long after the crime, the punishment continues. That is life in a police state society. One false move and your citizenship is all but null and void, your hope for a chance at the American dream up in a puff of smoke (which new research now suggests inhibits cancer…wrap your mind around that one-it’s illegal to do something good for you, like collecting rain water and living off the grid…awesome).
I can safely say that it was spiritual instincts that saved us from complete demise in Boulder. We now had some genuine friendships and people we cared about. There is a sense of freedom from the “rat race” that is hard to describe. You are basically living one day at a time and no more. You need to find and gather the things you need for one or two days but it is never possible to plan or carry around enough for more than that. Can you appreciate how much less stress you experience when you are literally relying on the Universe to guide your steps one day at a time?
It was not an easy thing to just walk away. When someone saves your life, opens your eyes, and allows and encourages you to be your full and true self, they become much more than a friend, certainly more than just a homeless bum.
These days, I try to remain grateful of the roof I now have over my head, for the food I am able to cook and provide my son whenever he is hungry, for the shower and toilet I don’t have to beg someone to use. I am grateful. But I would be lying if I said I do not miss that comradery every single day. That sense of united community is about the closest thing to paradise I know of, this side of heaven.
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