Pray and give to save Rashawn’s Diamond

I have known Rashawn for over 20 years. He suffers from dwarfism, yet I have rarely seen him with a negative attitude. He works hard whenever he can get work. He always has a plan for the future. I have never seen him drunk or high. He is known to be a reliable man. Life keeps knocking him down. He is trying to take care of his wife, Alice, who he calls Diamond. She is a beautiful, cheerful, African-American woman who is always thankful for every little blessing that comes their way. This has been a rough winter. There has not always been enough money to rent a room. The shelters don’t let people stay in during the days. There has not always been enough room in the shelters. We have not had enough money to make up the shortfall to provide rent for them. They had been working with a social worker and were on the verge of moving into a house last November. The social worker’s mother died. She went to France to bury her mother. The agency did not transfer their case intact to another social worker. They had to start the months long process all over.

All of this made for a bad situation, leaving Rashawn and Diamond out in the cold for some of the wettest, winter nights of the year. Diamond got walking pneumonia and TB. She spent a few days in ICU and a few days recovering with oxygen on a regular floor at Hahnemann, then they released her back onto the street, still coughing, during Code Blue weather. May God have mercy on us!

Many of the private shelters, including the one they have been staying at (because they can stay there as a couple) will be closing on April 1. That’s less than a week away.

I know we can’t save everybody we meet or intervene in every bad situation, but we can do this. At The King’s Jubilee, we have never had the institutional approach, that, if we can’t do it for everybody, we should do it for nobody. No. We have the attitude of “the starfish thrower” who when she was told that it was futile to throw the beached starfish back into the sea, because they were too numerous. How could she possibly make a difference? She replied, “It will make a difference for this starfish!” as she flung one more out, saving its life.

Rashawn and Diamond need $500 for one month’s rent to get a running start through the iffy weather of spring. This way, Diamond has a real shot at recovery. Frankly, I don’t understand why this is not covered as part of Medicaid. It is far cheaper than a return visit to the hospital. At any rate, we can do this. Rashawn and Diamond would be most grateful and they also deeply covet your prayers. (Rashawn’s Christian name is Jose’.)




Saved by Beauty

Saved by BeautyPeople often quote Dostoyevsky from The Idiot about the world being saved by beauty. A biography of Dorothy Day of blessed memory is not coincidentally named Saved by Beauty. When I was a young idealist, I had no such concept. I was all pragmatics, numbers and economics. All the flowers were geraniums to me. Very slowly did I come to realize the poor man and rich man are no more and no less blessed by  the cherry blossoms in spring, or the sight of an eagle in flight, or the sounds and smells of a gurgling brook, or the sight of youths in the blush of first love. It is when we remember these common joys, we remember our common humanity. This is when we stop fearing each other; we can stop fearing that we will be left destitute if we share from our wealth. We become free to acknowledge all humankind as sisters and brothers.

This limited edition art piece in my Lily Gilding collection is a meditation on this truth. The inner circle has a blossom in motion at each compass point. The outer circle has a blossom in motion at each hour, or five minute mark, on the face of a clock. So, the meditation is with every step, with every moment, we are to consider beauty. Consider the common beauty around us and let it humanize you. Consider the beauty of the person in front of you. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field…” Then how each of us and everyone we meet is worth more that any of those beautiful lilies. God sees beauty in each and every human being. Ask God to show you what is beautiful in each person you deal with, especially the difficult people and any enemies. If even 7% or 8% of us would do this, we would be enough salt and light to save the world!

A maximum of ten of these will be sold, signed in custom, round frames. 27″ diameter. Call 267-497-0268 for pricing. Proceeds fund soup for the street, etc.

God bless you.



Bitter Cold on the Streets of Philadelphia

On the last couple of Thursdays, volunteers have called me to see if we were still going out to serve, since it was Code Blue in the city. I explained on each occasion that, yes, we would be going. Many of the people we serve are not fully homeless. They live in rented rooms, but have no place to prepare food. Some of them have to choose between rent and food for the month or week. Many we serve are the hardcore of the homeless who refuse to go in to shelters due to fear for their own safety or fear of being picked up on an old bench warrant, or just not wanting to admit that they are that homeless and dependent. Then there is the cold, hard truth, that even with the expanded capacity and outreach of Code Blue, there isn’t enough space for everyone to come in from out of the cold.

It’s a sad state of affairs. There are lots of heated, vacant spaces, if we only had more compassion. Train conductors used to be allowed to look the other way and let homeless ride and sleep on the subway all night, maybe without collecting a fare. Now there are cameras and they’d lose their jobs. The trains are running. It costs nothing more. It hurts nobody. It saves lives. We all descended from poor and homeless people at some point. Now we are afraid of them, so we don’t let them ride.

Those of us serving were well bundled up with layers. We served about 50 people. I thank God we had blankets and new socks and some clothing to give away. We served hot, thick hamburger and cabbage soup, spicy tagine, spaghetti, and hot chocolate, along with our usual complement of fruits, eggs, sandwiches, etc. We gave just about everything away! Somebody even left a huge bag of foil wrapped chocolate coins on our front step along with a cash donation. It was a joy to share those as a special treat on such a cold night. The cash helped someone stay out of the cold in a room. We were freezing and so ready to get back into cars with heat, by the time we left, 45 minutes after we arrived. My hands are still cold and stiff more than 12 hours later, even though I was wearing gloves the whole time (since they got frostbit in 1969). But we got to go home to heat and basically unlimited hot water, coffee, microwaves, tea, etc. We left these people, our brothers and sisters, on the street to try to survive more sub-zero, windy, Code Blue days and nights in a city whose main concern is that they not be seen in public.

May God forgive us.



Watch This Space!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook or keep checking back on this blog. Some little and some really big changes are going to be happening over the next year at The King’s Jubilee. My Russian teacher in high school once told me that I had a mind like an iron vice, after the light went on after he explained prepositions to me for the 6th time and I finally had them mastered. Three years later I figured out he was giving me what was known as a “left-handed compliment.” In other words, I can be slow on the uptake sometimes, but once I’ve got it, I’ve got it.

As I implied in a previous post, it is time for me to stop getting in my own way and let some fresh leadership step up to take TKJ forward. I’ll be happy to keep cooking soup and serving hot sauce and riding shot gun to the city and talking to the people on the street for as long as I am able. I just am not going to be responsible for coordinating, fundraising, supervising (like I supervise!), etc.

There will be a new face or faces of The King’s Jubilee. This has been too long in coming. I am sorry. It has been due to my own lack of faith and my trust issues due to CPTSD from clergy abuse that has made this so hard for me to do. In the next couple of days, the new president of TKJ will introduce herself on this blog. We hope to accomplish more to eliminate homelessness in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.  We will continue to advocate for the visible and invisible poor and oppressed in our society. We will continue to do direct acts of charity to see the face of ourselves, or perhaps even of Jesus Himself, in those among whom we serve.

Our mission has just begun. Please pray for us as we make our way forward. To better times and expanded services! Thank you for your support. We can only do this as you give. We receive no government or corporate support. May God bless you as you give and as you pray and remember the poor.



Deah Barakat

Deah Barakat is one of the three Muslim students who was killed on the University of North Carolina campus this week by a mentally deranged, grumpy old man. The photo above was the last thing she posted on her Facebook account with the caption, “Tonight we provided free dental supplies and food to over 75 homeless people in downtown Durham! #‎DowntownSmiles‬”

Matthew 25. Everyone is surprised at the Judgment.

May her Memory be Eternal!

Tonight’s Meal

Love Pack
Love Pack

Just because I said on Tuesday that we did not have the resources for Thursday night’s meal, does not mean we are not serving Thursday night’s meal. It just means somethings got to happen to make this possible. Not only are we serving a meal; we are serving a feast! I am making a turkey soup with beef broth. Miss April is making a vegan side and buttery cabbage and pasta side. Holy Annunciation are bringing peanuts, eggs, oranges, bananas, and pastries. Pennridge South Middle School are bringing blankets and “Love Packs” with toiletry items and snacks & water for later. Bob is bringing bags of socks. Esther is bringing spaghetti. I’m bringing iced tea, hot sauce, salt and pepper!

I forgot to mention sandwiches! I don’t remember who all are bringing sandwiches, but we will have plenty, so people will have enough for a late night snack or breakfast or lunch tomorrow.

Thank you, people, for coming through again!

Thank God!



Moroccan Style Rice

This is the vegan dish that I mentioned a few posts ago that Miss April made for us to serve on the street, which delighted our South African friend so much. A few of our readers asked for the recipe, so here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 Very large Spanish Onions
  • 12 oz. Apricots – chopped
  • 1 box of raisins
  • 2 bunches fresh Cilantro
  • 2 bunches fresh Parsley
  • 1½ cups Wild Rice
  • 2 lb. Basmati Rice
  • 3 Tablespoons Turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 lb. Carrots – sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Cook rice. Chop onion, parsley and cilantro fine in food processor. Sauté with spices in olive oil. Toss everything together in a turkey roasting pan. We slow cooked it at 200º or 250º until it was time to leave for the city. It basically needs to be baked until the carrots soften.

This recipe makes a large turkey roasting pan full.



The Legend of Sir Cleges

This tale is from the late 14th or early 15th century, translated from Middle English, provided freely with footnotes here. We present the same translation in more readable size and font here. It is one of a class of moral poems called Complaint Literature. It resonates with Bethann and me for obvious reasons. We thank Charli Riggle for calling it to our attention. It is long for a blog post, but well worth the read. It has been published as a children’s book, called “The Christmas Knight”. Enjoy!

Listen, lords, and you will hear of ancestors who were before us, both hardy and strong, in the time of King Arthur’s father, the handsome Uther Pendragon.  He had a knight named Sir Cleges; none at the Round Table was so doughty at need.  He was a man of high stature, fair of all features, and great might.  There was no more courteous, noble and generous a knight in the world.  He gave gold to squires who had fought in wars and had fallen into poverty.  He treated his tenants well, never quarreling or punishing them; he was as mild as a maid.  His stores were plentiful, and food was given to every man who came to him.

The knight had a noble wife named Dame Clarys; a better or more beautiful lady might not be alive, full of all goodness and of glad cheer day and night.  They were both great almsfolk to both poor men and friars. They cheered many a person, and because of them no man, rich or poor, suffered loss; they always made it right.

Every year Sir Cleges held a feast, as royal as though he were a king, in honor of Christmas.  Rich and poor were invited, and no one refused to come.  There was much mirth, and when the feast was over the minstrels received gifts of horses, robes, rich rings, gold and silver and other things.  The feasts in worship of Him who rules all and died on the Cross for us were held for ten or twelve years, and though his fortunes began to slacken off, noble Sir Cleges continued to hold the feasts.  He mortgaged his manors to defray his debt, and in this way held feasts for many years, for both nobles and commoners in the name of God almighty.

Truth to tell, at the last all his wealth was spent, but though his goods were nearly gone he still made a feast and hoped to be requited by God.  His manors were all sold except one, which was of such little value that he and his wife could barely live.  His men, so full of pride, all left him, so to that only he, his wife and two children remained, and he moaned greatly.

One Christmas eve, Sir Cleges and Dame Clarys dwelt near Cardiff.  As it drew near noon, he suddenly fell into a swoon, woefully remembering the mirth he used to bring.  Now he had sold his manors with their tenancies and wide lands, and sorrowfully wrung his hands and sorely wept over his failed pride.  As he walked up and down sighing, he heard a sound of diverse minstrelsy: trumpeters, pipers, drummers, harpers and others.  There were many carols and great dancing, and he heard singing everywhere. He wrung his hands, weeping and moaning, and sighed piteously.

“Jesus, Heaven’s King who made all things out of nothing, I thank You for Your grace. I was able to make mirth in this time for Your sake; I fed rich food and good drink to all who came in Your name, free and bondsmen.  They lacked neither wild nor domestic game, and I spared no expense.”

As he stood there mourning, his wife came and embraced him.  She kissed him with glad cheer and said, “My true wedded companion, I hear well what you mean, but you can see it doesn’t help to have such sorrowful thoughts.  I advise you to stop, let go of your sadness, and thank God for His loan of all He has sent. For Christ’s sake, I counsel you to cease your sorrow in honor of this holy day.  Now every man should be merry and glad with such goods as they have, and I pray you do so.  Let us go to our dinner and be as joyful as we can.  It is for the best; I have made our meal truly, I hope, to your liking.”

Sir Cleges assented and went with her, in a somewhat better mood.  When he fell into thought and sorrow, she comforted him all the more, and he began to grow happy and quickly wiped the tears from his cheeks.  Then they washed and went to dinner with such as they could get and made merry.  When they had eaten, they spent the day in mirth as best they could.  They played with their children, and went to bed after evensong.  They slept until the church bell rang, then arose, got ready, and went to service with their children.  Cleges knelt and prayed to Jesus Christ on his wife’s account: “Gracious Lord, for my wife and my two children, keep us out of trouble!”  The lady prayed to Him, “God, keep my lord from pain into everlasting life!”  After service they thanked God omnipotent and went home quickly.

When he came to his palace, Cleges thought his sorrow was gone, and he sent his wife and children ahead and went alone into a nearby private garden.  He knelt in prayer and thanked God with all his heart for all those who suffered poverty that He had sent to him.  He reached for a bough of the cherry tree under which he was kneeling to help himself stand, and when he caught it he found green leaves and many berries.  “Dear God in Trinity,” he exclaimed, “what kind of berries can these be, growing at this time of year?  I have never seen a tree bear fruit in this season, anywhere I have been.”  He tasted one, and it was the best cherry he had ever seen.  He cut off a small branch and brought it to his wife.

“Look, here is a novelty I found on a tree in our garden.  I fear it is a token of more grief to come because of our great complaining.”  But his wife said, “It is a sign of more goodness and plenty to come. Whether we have more or less, it is always truly best that we thank God.”  The lady said cheerfully, “Let’s fill a basket with the fruit that God has sent, and tomorrow at daybreak you shall go to Cardiff and present it to the king.  For such a gift we may fare better, I tell you truly.”

Sir Cleges agreed with her plan immediately.  At daylight, Dame Clarys prepared the basket and told her eldest son: “Gladly take up this basket and bear it on your back easily after your noble father.”  Cleges had no horse for his journey, so says the book, so he took a staff for his hackney as do the poor.  He and his noble son went right to Cardiff on Christmas day and went straight to the castle gate as though they were preparing for the noon meal. But Cleges was dressed in poor, simple clothing, and the porter scornfully told him to leave at once.  “Otherwise, by God and St Mary, I will break your head.  Go stand with the beggars.  If you come in any farther, you’ll regret it after I’ve beaten you.”

“Good sir,” replied Sir Cleges, “I pray you to let me in, for I have brought the king a gift from Him who made all things out of nothing. Look!”  The porter went to the basket and quickly lifted up the lid and saw the cherries.  He knew well that the king would give great gifts for this present.  He said, “By Him who bought me dearly, you shall not come in at this gate, by Him who made this world, unless you grant me a third part of what the king will give you, be it silver or gold.”

Sir Cleges agreed and entered without any more resistance at a rapid pace.  The officer at the door was standing with a staff, and when he saw Sir Cleges come in so boldly, he said, “Get out of my sight, churl, without delay, or I shall beat your every limb, head and body without mercy if you advance farther.”

“Good sir,” said Sir Cleges, “for His love who made man, cease your angry manner, for I have brought a present from Him that made all things out of nothing and died upon the Cross.  Last night this fruit grew, which is noble and good; look to see if I am false or true.”  The usher lifted up the lid quickly and marveled at the fairest cherries he had ever seen.

The usher said, “By sweet Mary, I tell you surely that you will not step into this hall unless you give me, without refusal, the third part of your winnings when you return to me.”  Sir Cleges said no more but immediately agreed; it could be no other way.  Then Sir Cleges, with a heavy expression, took his son and basket into the hall.

The steward started forth quickly among the richly dressed lords in the hall and went boldly to Sir Cleges and said, “Who made you so hardy to come here before you were bidden?  Churl, you are too bold.  I advise you to withdraw immediately, in your old clothing.  Cleges told him, “Sir, I have brought a present from that Lord who bought us dearly and bled on the Cross.”

The steward came forth immediately and plucked up the lid as fast as he could, and said, “By dear Mary, I have never seen this at this time of year since I was born.  You shall not come near the king unless you grant my demand, by Him that bought me dearly.  By my fortune, I will have the third part of the king’s gift, or else go throw yourself out!”

Sir Cleges stood and thought to himself, “If I should share between three men, I will have nothing for all my work, unless it is a meal.”  As he thought and sighed greatly, the steward said to him, “Harlot, have you no tongue?  Speak to me and don’t wait long to grant what I ask, or I will beat your rags into your back with a staff and shove you out headlong!”

Sir Cleges saw no other remedy than to grant the steward’s demand and said with a sigh, “Whatever the king gives in reward, you shall have the third part, be it less or more.”  With that word, the steward and Sir Cleges were in accord and nothing more was said.  Cleges went up to the king quickly and he proffered his present full fairly, kneeling before him.  He uncovered the basket and kneeling upon the ground showed the bright cherries to the king and said, “Jesus our Saviour sent you this fruit with great honor, growing this day on earth.”

The king saw the fresh, new cherries and said, “I thank you, sweet Jesus; here is a fair novelty.”  He commanded Sir Cleges to eat dinner and to have a word with him afterward, without fail.  The king made a present and sent it to a noble lady who was born in Cornwall.  She was bright and beautiful, and afterwards was his own queen.  The cherries were served throughout the hall, and the most royal king said, “I counsel you to be merry!  And I shall make him who brought me this present so content that it shall avail him well.”

When all the men were merry and glad, the king told a squire, “Bring before me the poor man who brought the cherries.”  The squire went immediately and didn’t tarry, without scorn; he brought Cleges before the king.  Cleges fell on his knees and knew his reward had been lost.  He asked the king, “Lord, what is your will?  I am your freeborn man.”

The king responded, “I thank you heartily for the great present you have given me.  You have honored all my feast, most and least, with your dainties, and honored me also.  By God, I will grant you whatever you will have, whether your heart desires landholdings, or other goods, however it goes.”

“Have mercy, liege king!” Cleges exclaimed.  “This is a high thing for someone like me.  To grant me landholdings or any goods, by God, is too much for me.  But if I shall choose for myself, I ask for nothing but twelve strokes; generously grant me now that I may pay them all with my staff to my adversaries in this hall, for St Charity.”

Uther the king answered, “I regret granting the covenant that I made. By Him that made you and me, you would be better taking gold or goods, for which you have greater need.  Cleges said without rancor, “It is your own granting; I may not be  denied.”  The king was angry and sorely grieved, but nevertheless he granted that the blows should be paid.

Sir Cleges went into the hall among all the great lords and sought the steward to pay him his reward, for he had angered him greatly.  He gave the steward such a stroke that he fell down like a block in front of everyone.  Then he gave him three strokes and the steward said, “Sir, for your courtesy, strike me no more!”

Then Sir Cleges went out of the hall, intent on paying more stokes without  delay.  He went to the usher, and when they met Cleges gave him such fierce, painful strokes that for many days afterward he would not hinder any man’s way.  Cleges said, “By my fortune, you have the third part of my gift, just as I promised you.”

He eagerly came to the porter and paid him his four stokes. For many days afterward he would hinder no man’s way, neither to ride nor to go.  The first stroke Sir Cleges laid on him broke his shoulder bone in two, and his right arm also.  Sir Cleges said, “By my fortune, you have the third part of my gift according to the covenant we made.”

The king was sitting in his chamber to hear mirth and revelry, and Sir Cleges went there.  A harper had told a tale that pleased the king well and fulfilled his desire.  The king asked this harper, “You may often hear much, since you have traveled afar.  Tell me truly, if you can, do you know this poor man who gave me the present today?”

The harper answered, “My liege, in truth men used to call him Cleges; he was a knight of yours, I think, when he was full of fortune and grace, a man of high stature.”

“This is indeed not him,” said the king, “he has been believed dead a long time, whom I loved very much.  I wish to God that he was with me; I would rather have him than three knights, he was so brave in battle.”

Sir Cleges knelt before the king and thanked him courteously for granting his request.  The king asked him especially why he had given the three men strokes.  Cleges explained, “I could not come inside unless I granted each of them the third part of what you would give me.  By that I would have nothing myself; truly, I thought it best to divide among them twelve stokes.”

The lords, both young and old, and all who were with the king had great pleasure and laughed so hard that they couldn’t sit.  They said, “It was a noble joke, we vow by Christ.”  The king sent for his steward and said, “If he grants you any reward, ask for it according to the law.”  Looking grim, the steward said, “I don’t intend to have anything to do with him; I wish I had never known him.”

The king said, “Without blame, tell me now, good man, what is your name?”  “My liege,” he said, “as this man tells you, I was once called Sir Cleges; I was your own true knight.”  “Are you my knight who served me, so noble and so gracious, both strong, hardy and manly?”  “Yes, lord,” Cleges said, “as I might thrive, until God  almighty afflicted me; thus poverty has been my destiny.”

The king immediately gave him all that belongs to a knight for arraying his body.  He also gave him the castle of Cardiff, with all its appurtenances, to hold with peace and security.  Then he made him his steward of all his lands, of water, land and forest.  He happily gave him a gold cup to take to Dame Clarys as a token of joy and mirth.  The king made Cleges’ son a squire and gave him a collar to wear, along with a hundredworth pounds of rent.  When they came home in this manner, the bright Dame Cleges thanked God truly in every way, for she had both knight and squire according to their intent.  They paid their debts as fast as they could until every man was satisfied.

Sir Cleges was held to be a noble steward by all men, young and old, who knew him, wherever he went in the land.  The courteous and gracious knight became so wealthy that he assisted all his kin, close and distant.  His lady and he lived many years with joy and cheer until God sent for them.  For the goodness they did here their souls went to shining Heaven, where there is joy without end.

Amen.



So Much Pain

I know I should be posting more often and being more positive. I also know I probably shouldn’t talk so much about myself. It seems so many people focus on me when they consider giving to The King’s Jubilee, which is really ridiculous, since I obviously haven’t benefited by doing this. We are in danger of foreclosure again, yet the ministry has been paying a helper’s rent. The priority is always on helping people get off and stay off of the street.

The truth of the matter is since June of 2012, I have had constant, severe pain in my lower spine. Because of my migraines and strokes, none of the doctors paid any attention to this. I thought they had looked at it and determined there was nothing to do about it, except pain control. Here they had never looked at that part of my spine. Now, I am a white man, living in the suburbs. I had good insurance at the time, yet still I ended up with this miserable oversight. Even with pain meds and a comfortable chair and bed and heated home, I have constant tears from pain. What if I were a homeless, black woman, without insurance going through this? I doubt I could have survived (or would have wanted to). I guess this is part of what keeps me going. Even at my lowest moments, I have so much more than those we serve.

This month marks the completion of the 26th year of service of The King’s Jubilee. We had always hoped to do so much more. We have spun off ministries that have gone on to be bigger and better than ours, so that is something. At this point, it is looking like it is time to either close TKJ or spin it off to younger leadership. We do not even have the resources for this week’s meal. The TKJ-mobile is two months out of inspection. I have no credit left. People don’t give because they don’t like me. So it is obvious I need to be the scapegoat and step aside or this ministry is dead. I did speak to a young lady about this a couple of years ago, but she recently was married and had a child, so I don’t know. She has the right stuff.  Please pray for us. Please give, knowing it goes to serve the homeless and poor. We serve with dignity, respect and joy, in other words, in Jesus’ Name.



A South African Smile

The other week, Miss April made Moroccan Rice as the vegetarian alternative. One of our regular customers is a well-spoken, South African man. He truly appreciated this dish. He told me it reminded him of home, because, you see, Morocco, in north Africa, has the same climate as South Africa, being about the same distance away from the equator. They share a lot of the same ingredients in their cuisines; and borrow many recipes back and forth, as a result. I am always happy to learn new things and to make connections with food. This really tickled him that we had served this. He asked if I was of African descent. This is the first time in my life I have been asked this question. (He has very dark skin. ) I said No, but we just like to draw on all different backgrounds for ideas in cooking, and that our daughter, April, is especially adventuresome.

He asked me if I used African recipes,  as well, at times, because they tasted quite tasty and familiar. I laughed. I told him that I never follow recipes. I just write them, but I use a lot of African root vegetables and spices from South Africa and India. He thanked us again for taking such care in making excellent food every week. He said, it gave them something to look forward to for Thursday nights.

A big thank you to everyone who makes this possible! God bless you!