Marcus

As the afternoon sun grows softer on Montgomery Street, we bid our guests farewell for the day. We mop the floors and shut off the lights and I think of our guests that are returning home full-bellied.

It’s an easy thing to marvel, as the green door closes, the many places that our guests call home. I think of Danny, opening the door of his childhood home. After a stroke left him unable to work, he fell behind on his taxes and his days there are numbered. There’s Rick, who returns home to a camp he has proudly built with salvaged goods. A Veteran and a farmer, he doesn’t believe he is built for the structure of an apartment and a traditional home. “I don’t have a wife or a family,” he explains, “so what do I need with all that stuff?”

And there’s Elliot, who will be returning home to his brand new apartment. After a lost job and mounting bills, he suddenly found himself seeking housing with a local shelter and dining with the Samaritan Center.  Patiently, Elliot filled out applications, searched for housing, and filled his time with doing odd jobs for friends, until finally, it all paid off and he secured a small studio apartment, complete with a bed and dresser.  He joyfully shared his news with us one afternoon at dinner, when Marcus, another guest piped up, “You know, I think I can help.”

Marcus is the kind of man that is quick with a laugh, tells great stories and is a commanding presence in any group.  But most importantly, he is the kind of man that listens to people.  He remembers everyone’s names and how they take their coffee.  He pays attention to the little details, like when he noticed Bella’s shoes were well worn and he brought her a pair of pink Nike hightops.  Marcus doles out blunt advice for those who need it, and gentle compliments and consolations for the vulnerable.  He understands better than anyone the hard road that Elliot has travelled – because he is walking beside him, living in a shelter, relying on assistance and hoping for all that could come next.

Marcus has been volunteering at First English Lutheran Church, the hosts for a program that collects goods from local college students as they move out for the summer.  Marcus asked Pastor Craig to set aside a television, a microwave and a refrigerator for Elliot’s new apartment.

On a sunny afternoon, I pulled up on to Montgomery Street with the new treasures to find Elliot and Marcus waiting in the sunshine together to unload the mini-van.  It was in that moment, I understood the notion of home just a little clearer. Home is more than a physical place, where we hang our hats and eat our dinner; it is something we create each day.  The true nature of home lives in people like Marcus, who reached out to help someone like Elliot, offering what little he could.

Home was found in these two friends, both at precarious points in their lives, lugging a huge television up a set of stairs together.  One was making a new start, the other was still waiting. Home is found in the help we offer one another when life presents challenges.  Home is found in people that love one another.