I Saw the Gun

January 16, 2017

In his hurried rush to stick the pistol under his pullover hoodie, the drive stepped from the idling car in the parking lot entrance, and I saw the gun.
The man unfolded his limber body and stood taller than me by a foot, his mouth spewing words I couldn’t make out. He was jerking in twists, and his one arm waved, and his head seemed to wobble on his torso.
He pushed the gun into the waist band of his pants, wrapping his hand around the bulging fabric. He called with screams to the lady to whom I’d just given an Army sleeping bag too.
The situation bolted into my morning faster than a strike of lightning, although there was no strike or hit. For no one shot the gun. Nothing happened. And no one got hurt. The incident thundered with intensity and died out nearly as fast as it rolled in.
But the replay in my head came with the what if’s of who would have gotten shot, to why this man was so angry, and then to how many could have gotten injured.
Now before anyone scolds me for being there, I go to the streets. I go to the bridge services. I am called to this walk.
Besides, this person was not homeless nor a part of the lunch being served at the parking lot today. I stop by every third Sunday (when I can) after leaving the recovery center service, and today was one of my outings.
This is so I can love on someone for Christ, and also so I can hand out items donated to me, and to develop relationships with people.
I’d just left visiting with Tom, one of my friends at the camps, having surprised him and Karlye with fried chicken and fixings and then parked my car on the side of the road behind the library. Dozens and dozens of people were gathering.
I opened the backseat door of my car, and opened my trunk, and grabbed a couple of the sleeping bags. Most of the dozen or so bags went to people I’d not ever met before.
Right before the gun make its appearance, this old clunker of a truck rattled into the parking ahead of the car. This old gent’s eye glasses were so caked with dandruff, and his hair greasy like oil, but his smile was warm like “kindness” to my soul. He was so thankful for the sleeping bag, and I’d learn he had no heat in his house.
I’m reminded that having a home does not make a person a candidate for being my friend. That living in a homeless camp doesn’t either. What makes them a candidate is — he or she is fearfully and wonderfully created by God, and I want them to know the Christ I adore. I love to share the gospel with anyone I can too, and besides I can always use another friend.
Now in the rushed and blurred moments with the gun making its momentary appearance, I remembered how the lady to my right ran to the man, calming him with her words, saying things in a low voice.
The screaming man stepped back to his car, where he’d left the door wide open, and the other man in the passenger seat twitched and rambled something, too. The driver curled inside, shut the door, and sped away, leaving within minutes of his arrival. He was there, and then gone.
The lady hurried to my side, assuring me the man was angry with her brother, and that she was in no danger (not that I was convinced). And I came to realize most (some thirty or more people) hadn’t noticed a thing.
While replaying the moment, I remembered this: One of my homeless friends had put himself between me and that man with the gun. He stepped in front of me. Did you catch that? In front of me? I asked him, “Did you see what I saw?”
He nodded. “Yes, I did. I figured I’d keep you behind me.”
Now as I write this … I can only think of a few people willing to step between me and someone with a gun. And to think, now I know of someone else now who has no where to lay his head except in his tent in the woods — but he is my friend. And I am his!

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