Pour One Out for Colt 45
St. Mark is one of the few churches along Peachtree Street here in Atlanta that still allows homeless folks to sleep on its steps. Even that statement sounds callous, but it’s a degree better than those churches that have posted “No Loitering” signs out front to keep these needy men and women away from true sanctuary. You know, like Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “Fuck you who are poor. Get the hell off my lawn and kiss every inch of my black ass.”
A group of four or five guys regularly sleep on our handicap ramp out front of St. Mark. I jog past on my early Saturday runs and see them out there wrapped up in their blankets and using all their possessions as pillows. It makes me happy and sad. Happy that they feel safe and welcome there in the shadow of our big red front doors, but sad that there are people who have no shelter from the elements, or who, for some reason, choose not to take advantage of the shelter that’s available.
Yesterday, when Beth, our pastor, stood up to take prayer requests, she began by saying she had a very sad announcement. One of those ramp guys, Mike, had passed away in the night out there on that concrete ramp. A man, a child of God created in God’s image, died on a cold Sunday morning on the steps of a god damned church in the United States of America.
Beth said Mike was better known around the church and on the streets as “Colt 45,” because every night he’d drink a can of Colt 45, crush the empty and toss it in the bushes in front of the church. I’ve seen those cans. I might have served Mike some food at Breakfast Club, or poured him a cup of coffee. Chances are good I passed him walking down the street at some point and we probably smiled and said hi. But I can’t remember who he is.
But I remember those cans. Colt 45. The Bull! Those cans were a sign. A sign that a human being had been there and was visible and real and tangible in this world. That human being was a man named Mike.
So tonight I’ll buy a can of Colt 45 and pour it out for Mike. And then I’m going to throw the empty down next to one of those “No Loitering” signs at the church up the street. And they can kiss every inch of my black ass.
Rest in peace, Mike. I’m sorry we couldn’t do better by you.
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