In between the loving experience at the "the little church among the pines" and the one that I am going to tell you about now...I spent an enjoyable night in a
motel in Prineville.
I thank the good folks at St. Vincent de Paul for that.
Bless you for keeping me out of the snow!
And blessings, also to the kind folks at the Highland Baptist Church in Redmond. They
even let me take a shower when I stayed in their huge auditorium on Saturday
Then a man fired up their church bus and drove me over 25 miles north to the
City of Madras, Oregon. His heart was in the right place, even though Madras
doesn't have one.
Madras. Even the name itself sounds wrong. It sounds like it's populated by
a herd of mad assholes. And that is at least partly true.
Madras didn't welcome or embrace me after I stepped off the church bus at
7:30 in the morning.
No, it didn't.
It was Sunday morning and my breath matched the clouds of exhaust coming
from the early morning traffic.
I sat down on my backpack, on the side of the road and shivered.
I thought that I would get a series of rides up the highway to The Dalles. That
"Country Club" Christians rolled past me in their self-righteous rigs and parked
in the lots by two big church buildings. They all looked at me and every one of
them saw me but none of them smiled...or stopped.
I shivered and as I watched the sun slowly chase jet vapor trails across the
As the morning faded into afternoon, I watched young men roar past me in
their pickup trucks...blowing black smoke at my growing shadow. I heard
adults yell obscenities and flip me off. And all of the "Christians" that passed
by me just glared and glared and glared.
I decided then that if a community on this Earth is the geographic equivalent
of evil, it is Madras, Oregon.
Finally, the sun fell behind the hills and its light went out. Suddenly, I was
alone in the dark with the moon...and very cold.
I decided that I had no choice but to walk up the dark street to one of the big
So I went up to a Baptist church and walked inside. The church features
flavored coffees inside the lobby and a large cross on the side of the building.
I hoped that the people between the coffee and the crosses...would help me.
Instead, they walked past me, giggling and whispering. I sat in a large,
overstuffed leather chair and felt like I was back in junior high.
Then a tall man asked me what I needed.
I explained what was going on and as I did, his face reflected the hatred
that I am sure he holds within his soul.
Bad vibrations swirled around me as I waited to see what that "Gospel
Group Gone Bad" would do.
First a man offered me a motel and then five minutes later he changed
his mind...and told me to leave the church building and wait for the
police to come.
And so, after standing out in the cold for almost ten hours, I was sent
back outside to shiver again.
The cops came and made me sit on the bumper of their cruiser while
they ran my ID. Then they brought me over to the Men's Gospel Mission.
Yes, the Men's Mission.
The guy who runs the mission is a short, fat, bald jerk. He barked at me
and then provided me with an office room and a bathroom without a sink.
I didn't get a chance to take a shower and I after I brushed my teeth with
a glass of water, I had to spit in the toilet. Har!
I wasn't even allowed to talk to anyone and I was hidden away like the
evil in the resident's collective conscience.
I missed my laptop and my phone. I had no way to connect or contact
any of my friends and sat on a couch and waited for the next day to arrive.
The next morning, I walked out of the room and saw a full pot of hot
coffee on the counter. But the man in charge didn't let me have any of it.
And so...before I walked out into the cold, gray dawn at 7am, I turned
around and told that man just what I thought of him and his shelter.
"You haven't learned one good thing from God, mister. And that big fish
on the side of your building doesn't represent the Bible or any real
Saints...it just stinks."
And after I threw the truth at him, I turned around, smiled, slammed
the door and walked away.