Marigold bud

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In the Spring of this year I was given two plants by a woman who was homeless. She and her husband and two boys stayed in Hopeville, a tent city that was shut down by the city of St.Louis in May. She gave me these plants as a thank you gift for our hospitality. We moved them into the house next door to ours for a month’s time until they could get into an apartment. The plants are a reminder to me of this mother. Through the month of July I brought water to these plants on the front porch. July brought record temperatures this year and as I walked by them each evening I thought about how dry they were and about how they would probably not make it in the heat. The initial buds on these marigolds had long since dried up and fallen off. The other purple plant, whatever it is, started looking worse for wear. Then the rains came and it looked better. But today as I passed by I found another bud. And it reminded me of Michelle. And I feel hope. You see, Michelle is an alcoholic. Her husband and boys grew exasperated with her the last time she did not come home. She had thrown away all the money they needed for their new life buying beer and cheap food items.
But I remember her sweet smile and her boys who kept up their courage and found a way to play games wherever they were. Her husband’s health is failing and all they have left is their van. And I don’t know where they are now, but there is hope. How do I know? Because as impossible as it all seems we’re starting Integrity Village 2.0 tomorrow in St. Louis County. I sat in a phone meeting today with our attorney and my dad, Ray our VP, and Charlie the business admin, and our attorney reminded us that should this play out badly the city could use our attempt to set up in St. Louis County in a future injunction to block us from setting up a tent community in the city.
We could wait and do it later. Or there may be no point in waiting because the city will oppose us no matter where we set up. So I said, “No, I believe we should do it because the homeless will not believe us anymore if we keep making promises to start but then don’t. Come let them arrest us on property we own this time, in an unincorporated area of the county. Handcuff me and take me to jail. But we have a right to camp on our own property.”
The news media found out about it when we left some flyers with the neighbors explaining what we were doing yesterday. Some of the neighbors were really supportive. Others wouldn’t come to the door. Someone called Fox news channel 2. So we set up a press conference for 9am tomorrow. I don’t want them on the property.
There’s going to be a meteor shower tomorrow night. I could maybe see it from the camp as there are no street lights there.
So when I look at that one marigold bud I think of Michelle and Marty and the boys and their German Shepherd and cat. They did a nutty thing and just left their homes and set off hoping there’d be a shelter or something somewhere that would take them in. They kept Marty alive and they stayed together. They found people who would encourage them to do right. I don’t know where they are anymore. But I pray for those boys. Their parents love them wildly, even with all the drinking and the anger and the dumb decisions.
And I pray for us. This crazy shelter that will advocate for the unsheltered even to the point of spending money and time and property to say, “It is wrong that the Metro area considers houseless people without income illegal.”

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