STEVE AND INDIANA

STEVE AND INDIANA
By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

The Bishop Dudley House is a non-profit ministry located off North Indiana Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls. It provides shelter to the homeless and, not surprisingly, is filled to overflowing during these frigid cold weeks.
Yesterday was yet another cold day.
The temperature was -4 but it felt like -20.
We ambled out into the raw winds in a "ready-warm" vehicle and made our way to the far end of town to take care of business.
I had barely just commented on the Bishop Dudley House, which we were nearing, when I saw a fragment of the brightest blue from the corner of my eye highlighting the head of a man who was in the act of taking a fall on the pavement.
"We need to circle the block and check on him," I told Scot.
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We circled the block and there, crumpled up somewhere near Indiana Avenue, lay a disheveled man in the cold. He was huddled in a fetal position and barely moving.
I was told to stay put while my husband went out to survey the need and the scene.
A signature of the homeless, Steve was wearing a bright blue cap, a faded gray half-zipped up coat, and no gloves. A canvass bag composed of, what I supposed was his life holdings was strapped tightly over his chest.
Scot bent down, helped the straggling, struggling "Steve" sit up, and then finally together, and arm in arm they came to a shaky stand and worked on getting their warbly bearings.
Entirely disoriented, he looked like a man experiencing a half-crazed nightmare,
 barely cognizant of his surroundings,
arms flailing and reaching toward an invisible fear,
language garbled and gurgling without any sense,
eyes staring vacantly at Scot, who had descended like an angel from the heavens to his rescue.
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Scot and Steve made quite a pair as they ambled disjointedly together toward the Bishop Dudley House, which we guessed his destination, not a long distance away.
I jumped into the driver's seat, drove the short distance to its front doors, and was met by a policeman who had been called by a concerned driver alerting him to a man lying near Indiana Avenue.
"Hey there Steve," the policeman volunteered as he quickly jumped out of his vehicle and headed toward the familiar man, "What are we doing out again? Let's get you out of the cold and into a warm building."
Scot's arm was replaced with the familiar policeman's arm and Steve was safely ushered into the warmth and refuge of the Bishop Dudley House.
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And all night long I thought about Steve.
I thought about his bright blue cap and his drunken fall.
I thought about the way we circled back and the way we stopped to help a man we didn't know at all.
I thought about bare hands in the snow,
a lonely, unknown man curled up on the road,
  lying lifeless in the frigid cold.
I thought about the crossing of "Steve and Indiana,"
and I cried.
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And I wondered ...
How many times has Jesus lifted "me" from a sin stagger and stupor like Steve's?
How many times has Jesus helped "me" to my feet while I've been totally sin incapacitated? How many times has Jesus whispered in my ear,
"Hey there, what are we doing out here again? Let's get you out of the cold and into a warm place again."
How many times has Jesus put his arms around me and guided me home? How many times has He lovingly returned me to the Father when I was all alone?
And I cry.
I've been a recipient of such great love ...
 so undeserved.
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 I care about the "Steve's" and the broken souls;
 they matter more and more to me.
I want my life to be defined by my identification "with" them and not my distance "from" them.
I want to cross the chasm of cold humanity and step into a life of loving identity with the "stranger" beside me:
arm and arm,
 and soul to soul,
and heading home.
Past Indiana Avenue,
a little bit North,
to the warmth of Home.
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