"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Friday, May 23, 2008

5/23/08: Ft. Morgan-Homeless Shelter

DAY #4

As it turned out, the 'events of the day' were decided as soon as I walked out the door and was putting the rain fly on my pack.

A woman walking into the library saw the pack, asked if I was passing thru and needed a place to get out of the weather. I saw that as a stroke of luck; the familiar right thing at the right time, so said 'yep!'. She directed me to a place called 'Caring Ministries' here in town saying they had a shelter where I could get inside for the night, and even eat some real food.

I walked up there, filled out their paperwork so they could do a background check to be sure I wasn't a fugitive and then walked to the 'Chara House'. I got there an hour and a half before they opened for the day and called Chris and Eric to let them know I wasn't being taken by tornado to Oz. Chris tried to warn me off of the shelter thinking I'd be ripped off, but I looked at it as to much of a coincidence to be shown that place at THAT particular time, so I ignored it.

Turns out I was right to. The people there are the types that I can relate to. None of them were 'homeless'. They were mostly just out of prison trying to put their lives back together. More of a halfway house than homeless shelter. The people there were friendly, helpful, and to a man seemed to have a realistic view on life because of where they had come from. Obviously I couldn't get to know everyone intimately because I was only there for the night, but they all were respectable human beings. It's funny, but it reminded me of some of the people I met while working as a carnie in March. People tend to paint the pictures they want to paint of people based on stereotypes and urban legend, without getting to know anyone. I can see the look on a few (very few) peoples faces when they see me and my pack. "Get a job!"

The supervisor's name was Richard Fairchild, a local pastor who goes there just about every night from 6pm to 8am to keep an eye on things, and counsel the residents. He's a good guy, and we wound up chatting for a couple hours after everyone went to bed. I had to be careful with my comments because he struck me as a bit of a fundamentalist and didn't want to ignite a Holy War! He reminded me a bit of the guy who runs "Salvation Mountain" in "Into the Wild"...although not as "syphilis- crazy"!

The conversation seemed to revolve around the occasional conflict between helping people who just wont help themselves. Responsibility etc. I found his views to be a bit contradictory because he refused to CREDIT himself for anything; attributing everything to God. Everything was externalized. Nothing he believed seemed to come from within. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect in the two viewpoints. Crediting God for everything good, yet if something bad happens, it's either unrelated to God or because we 'don't know Him'. Seems as though he wants it both ways-you can't assign blame without also being able to assign credit to the individual.

This is the kind of religion that appears to appeal to those who wish to simply punish themselves in an attempt to gain the promised Paradise after death. I'm sad for those people because life's meant to be LIVED, but at the same time it's always nice to meet people who are driven to do the right thing, and are DOING it.

I may sound overly critical of him, as if this were the ONLY things we talked about, and of course they weren't. He's doing some wonderful work for very little in return. These people need the help he provides, as do the occasional nomad that wanders through! Again, it seemed that through conversation with someone, my ideas become a bit more solid. A little more of that self-doubt chips away, and I'm more certain I'm on the right path. When a pastor of a church, whom you don't necessarily agree with, calls you 'intelligent, educated (ha!), and blessed', it makes you wonder.

I'm glad I stayed there last night, and I hope these people find their way-- whatever that may be. If you want to donate to them here's the address:

Chara House
attn: Richard Fairchild
110 Brush Ave.
Ft. Morgan, CO 80701

I've been in Ft. Morgan 2 1/2 days, and now it's time to move on. I suppose I'm going to pick up the ADT and head west for a bit toward Sterling. The forecast is for thunderstorms possibly popping up that way later today, but I don't mind that. As long as the tornadoes stay FARRRR away, I'm fine! I'm also thinking about heading north a bit sooner than I expected- into Nebraska then maybe South Dakota. Always wanted to see it...

A big thanks to everyone in Ft. Morgan who I ran into, especially here at the library. There are some VERY nice people up this way, and remarkably have not found ONE person who's been rude. I'm not surprised though. Chris and Gary ( www.walkingman.org ) said the same thing. People's tendencies are to be friendly and helpful, with fewer exceptions than we're led to believe.

I should point out that despite all my worries, the weather here turned out beautiful last night! It's a gorgeous morning, although a bit windy. Next stop: Sterling...but we know how that goes!

I now walk into the...bush.