Thursday, March 29, 2012

St. Francis

St. Francis was an Italian Catholic Saint who lived in tbe 12th century. The homeless shelter I am at is named after him.
I have always admired St. Francis since I learned of him through Robert F. Kennedy's middle name, Robert Francis Kennedy. He is the patron saint of the poor. Do they have matron saints? Just kidding.
One more day of kitchen clean up after dinner and then on to another chore. The work is pretty regular at SF but you just get your meals and a bed for it. Breakfast and dinner are the perks you get as well as a shower when the showers are clean. The shower are becomes an unholy mess in the midday when all homeless people are welcome to come, have lunch and take care of needs as they may be.
Oops, I just remembered, I have an appointment with my case worker at 11:00 a.m. today. It is now 9:48. I will have to cut my internet session short. A case worker is one of the additional benefits of visiting the SF House. She or he will help you find work, education and attitude.
I have read about how St. Francis renounced his father in the town of Assisi and how he was robbed by thieves after having stolen from his father and given everything back. There are more stories. I am interested in something that happened with wolves. A miracle or something. Gurumayi mentions St. Francis in her book of talks, Enthusiasm. She speaks of St. Francis' light heartedness. "One day St. Francis was working in his garden digging up the earth and pulling out weeds. He was going about it with great vigor. He was very focused. Someone nearby asked him what he would do if he were to learn he was going to die that evening. He replied, 'I would finish hoeing my garden.' Saint Francis had a light heart, completely free and at peace." (Enthusiasm, Swami Chidvilasananda, copyright, 1997, SYDA Foundation)
This morning I was speaking with a friend from the House who spoke of the homeless experience. I cannot quote him exactly but he was feeling the pain of being at the bottom of the totem pole and the harsh treatment and abuse he was suffering. I mentioned the U.S. Army and being like a "grunt." That feeling doesn't come strictly from the shelter but from all the neglect all around, the businesses that won't hire, the relatives that won't help, the long time friends that are not around.
My father in his retirement used to speak of being poor. He wasn't really, but he had lived through the depression and indulged an already ingrown stinginess which is a different kind of poverty. He gave gifts in expectation of return. It was once described as buying your love.
Although I could have had more in my college days, I had a cheap used car and had to live with my father, I have never known an experience like this. I feel very insecure.
On the other hand this is a different lifestyle from the one I needed to adopt while living with mom and even after she died. There isn't the complacency, and due to living in the country I suspect, the solitude.
I kind of like getting up in the morning and out into the public early. I get out at 8:00 a.m., have coffee at Maude's in the Sun Center and then am off to the public library a few blocks away at 9:30 a.m. I shouldn't waste my money on additional coffee in the morning but I need the atmosphere. There is some free coffee a little farther away down 2nd avenue I am going to try as I am down to my last $6 and have no food stamps left until the 5th. At Maude's I bring a cup and get it filled for $1. I enjoy the setting and read the Alligator. It seems a copy of the day's Gainesville Sun is left on a table sometimes and I read it. I usually look for jobs in it but I didn't this morning.
I am having this trouble with meat eating. I know many vegetarians and all though I am in desperate straights they still urge me to not eat meat. Sometimes it is just irrisistable and my need is a great excuse but it irritates you to have this advice when so little else is being done for you. To have someone preach to you about the dharma when you have a van full of shit from your last dwelling that you can't unload, when you can't pay your auto insurance and your license is suspended and your plates are expired. It's like just so you can call yourself a vegetarian. Or do I confuse it with callling myself a Siddha Yoga student? In Swami Muktananda's Play of Consciousness he tells us about a Siddha named Zipruanna who used to smear fecal matter on his abdomen. Zipruanna lived in a dump and there was shit everywhere. Still, Zipruanna was enlightened and he helped Baba Muktananda realize his inner self. Could you compare that to have a little fried chicken at St. Francis House? The dinners are, by the way, usually brought by some charitable organization. They may be a church or a club. It's the generous spirit that matters. Last night someone missed the dinner. The organization that was supposed to give the dinner did not appear and we had to have leftovers from refrigerators. It wasn't very good. We generally have some pretty good dinners, albeit most have meat entree. Of course, I am the exception at SF House where this vegetarianism is concerned.
One fellow there, Gene, says he is gaining weight being homeless. There are other organizations who sometimes offer food on the street to us. I believe there are more than just the one. I'll remind myself of that as this month ends and the next begins and I experience having no food stamps or money.
I am a problem with the money. I will buy organic food, you know. They are chief among offering the vegetarian. The Krsna Lunch is organic. Their food is from their farm in Alachua where all the food is grown organically. Nearby SF House is a Food Co-op. I cannot join as the membership for the less privileged is $25 a year and that's too much for me. An ordinary membership is $100 a year. A student membership if I remember is $35. It's a lovely little co-op, clean and fresh. You fell elevated just going in. In such places I always wonder if I feel elevated because I think I have enough money to patronize such places. I have fought that experience throughout the years but look, now I am homeless. Guess I am just on the wrong side of the culture war. When Bruce Springsteen sang about having "a meeting on the other side," (Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen, Columbia Records, 1975) he wasn't speaking about people against organic food, vegetarianism and meditation and so forth. That was just about gang violence up in the New Jersey, New York area. The other side was just across the river, the East River, I believe which in my day was one of the most polluted rivers in America.
Getting close to time for my appointment. Must check my e-mail, too. So, I'll have to close now.
Good Morning, Good Morning.

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