At 8:00 P.M. on November 2nd, it was all over. Justin, a friend from Sam’s hometown, picked us up outside the public library in Ocean Beach to take us out for a celebration dinner. But first, he drove us to his apartment to clean up. Before we stepped back into our other world, we needed to wash away the filth of street life.
I weighed myself. I had lost twenty-five pounds.
I turned the shower on all the way to hot and watched as the bathroom began to fill with steam. A worn and filthy man just in off the streets stared back at me from the mirror. I made a mental inventory: scraggly beard, matted hair with bits and pieces of several destinations embedded in the dreadlocks, dark circles under the eyes, a ring of filth around the neck, grime pressed into the creases of the skin, sun-baked arms and face and neck…
I didn’t want to forget the person I’d chosen to become.
Yankoski keeps going. The steam clouds the image in the mirror and the “homeless man was gone” he says. He talks about watching the filth run off his body to the drain and then disappearing. The scrubbing in futility as he was unable to get all the crud off his body in just one shower. But I want to stop at that sentence above there: “I didn’t want to forget the person I’d chosen to become.”
Yankoski became Jesus (“the least of these…”). And I don’t want to forget him either.
I spent the last three days taking a trip through the tomb. The tomb of a deep-sea fish that swallows prophets and spits them out to tell the world of God’s love. The tomb of broken taboo – embracing shame and blazing a trail that will soon be called “The Way”.
Yankoski’s book helped me through the last three days as I followed Jesus in humbling myself to the point of taking the form of a nasty, smelly, homeless person in hopes that God will exalt me too. Loiter Larry helped me when he took the lead and made me jealous of his daring faith. And I write here for a sudden explosion of readers after battling so hard to shed them in hopes that by sharing my journey into proph-O-drama, that you too will be encouraged.
Yankoski spent 5 months sleeping in the streets, being run off by cops and security guards, chased off by rats, roaches, rain, and criminal mayhem. 5 months literally singing for his supper, and sometimes not getting it, sometimes giving it away, sometimes eating food from trash cans.
I spent 3 days praying, writing, reaching out on the streets, merely avoiding my shower. This is a far cry from Yankoski’s example. Farther yet from Jesus’ example. And yet closer to both than I would normally imagine.
I hope you will accept the mission assignment. I think you will find a lot more there inside your heart and mind than just the stink in your clothes. I think you will find the man you have chosen to become winking at you from the mirror just before the steam whisks him away.