I was leading my youth’s Wednesday night activity, called Pulse at the Point, when my Admin Assistant asked me if that was William sitting in our coffee shop.
“Is that William sitting down over there?” she asked. So I looked around the corner, low and behold there was William watching the Spurs game on the coffee shop’s television. (The Spurs won 116-100! Also, my favorite Spur, Bruce Bowen, had his jersey retired after the game…check it out.) It was good to see William’s smiling face waving at me when I entered the coffee shop. “Hey, John!” he shouted.”
“Where were you last night?” I asked him. “I was all alone in your barn…I missed you!”
After apologizing for being gone, William explained he had met up with a friend who has an apartment on Blanco Rd…the friend sometimes allows him to sleep on the floor and watch movies. “I’m a cowboy” he said, “sometimes I ride off and do my own thing when the opportunity arrives.”
I was glad he was okay, but more importantly, I was glad that he has a friend who looks out for him in such a caring way.
After my church night was over, William and I got our stuff together and headed back to the barn. On our way back, we ran into my worship pastor and his wife. They introduced themselves to William. It was interesting to find out that both my pastor’s wife and William had fractured wrists. They made a quick connection. Now, I don’t know why I found this so profound…other than the common connection we all have to life’s ups and downs. It was comforting to know that we all have similar problems….even as common as fractured wrists. (It was also good to see my pastor’s wife again…she has been traveling back and forth for months to care for her parents, who have both passed away recently. She is a strong women to care for them so well in life’s final chapter here on Earth. I am certain her family is proud of her. I know God is.)
Both of us were hungry, so after walking for a while, William offered to buy me dinner. Did you catch that? William offered to buy me dinner! He would not take NO for an answer…so after I got the drinks, William bought me the best barbeque tacos from a local taco truck near my church.
It was a great dinner. Good company…Good Food. You can’t beat nights like this.
William drank coffee before he went to bed…and he could not fall asleep. So we talked, lit a camp fire again, and talked about our lives. William found it interesting that I went to Baylor and Duke for college and grad school. He thought it was funny that I am living on the streets for 40 days…and have a college diploma…but he was happy that I was spending time with him anyway. I was interested in William’s story:
William is the second of 2 brothers. He was born in San Antonio at the county hospital. He had lived a fairly rural life outside of town. His family was poor…but had some money. William grew up loving San Antonio….but he had a hard break during adolescence. When William was a teenager, his father committed suicide inside his home. He was the one who found him. William didn’t say much more about this…I understood.
After graduating high school near San Antonio, he got a car and traveled the state. He was a “rambling man,” he said. “I lived life on the road…like Willie Nelson.” During his 20’s, William lived in Midland, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston (actually not too far from where I grew up in Spring, TX). He had jobs here and there…and made some good money. However, things got rough when William wrecked his car into a Houston light pole and had to pay off the bill. “I was driving like Starsky & Hutch…but didn’t make the turn…it was not like the movie…” he explained with humor. In the end, he ran out of money and allowed alcohol to take over his life….and he moved back to San Antonio. This time, he was homeless.
William has been homeless ever since.
For 20 years, William has lived in campsites, under bridges, and recently in abandoned homes and barns. Over time, William has made some good friends around town. The good people at Joseph’s Bakery always find food for him and pay him to clean up the shop. He has a line of credit with many businesses in town that provide him food and drink. Even has a girlfriend!
Everyone seems to trust him and know he is a good man.
Even though he might be gone for one night…they all know he will return.
(Due to the coffee…William listened to country music and smoked all night long while sitting on a stump. He really is a cowboy!)