Farewell my traveling friend


Then we listened to Johnny Cash's "Let the Train Blow the Whistle (for me)." We described ways we'll miss Tink. They will miss his attitude about street unity. Tink really believed that even though street youth have differences of opinion, they really needed to stay in unity. Some said they would miss his dog, Boxcar. I said I would miss how he took young travelers under his wing. I will definitely miss Tink this fall when we have a new crop of young travelers coming through. I could count on Tink to help them understand the rules and how to be safe.  I read the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept." He felt the sadness of the death of a friend and cried. He felt the grief of the community that lost the friend and grieved alongside them. Even though he knew he would command his friend Lazarus to rise form the grave in a matter of short time, he took the time to grieve. It's important to feel the loss from one who passes from the community. 

Then we listened to our final song to move us into celebrating again. We heard Grateful Dead's "I Know You Rider." I admitted to them that Tink and I had only a few conversations about his beliefs. I knew only that he believed in God for sure and that God was a almighty. I regret not knowing more. I read from Hebrews that we have a savior who does not hold god-hood above us but rather knew temptation in every way–and yet was without sin. We can approach the throne of grace and mercy without fear because we have a savior who understands Tink's life, who understands the troubles, who understands the pain, and who understands the simple pleasures that Tink taught so many to enjoy.¬†

We closed in fellowship and community, something Tink would have approved for sure! We had food galore from a generous donor… sandwiches, chips, cookies, snacks, cold water, and soft drinks. In honor of dogs, we had leaches, collars and dog food. In honor of traveling kids, we had sewing kits, wash clothes, and fresh socks for everyone.¬†

We left a bunch of flowers and Tink's photo at the place where I first met him some years ago. He was sleeping against a tree. He looked kind of scarey in his hat and leather jacket, and he was asleep. I had a bag of goodies in a ziplock… socks, shampoo, water, maybe a few other things. I timidly asked, "I've got a ziplock bag here with some things that might be useful… socks, shampoo, water. Could you use them? They are yours if you can." He looked up, scowling a little¬†menacingly¬†at first, and then broke into a smile and said, "Yes. Those look great." Then he saw a big bright note inside, made by the 5th grader who assembled the bag. It said in crayola, "I hope this bag makes you smile." He said, "Can you take my picture so this kid knows I got this. And tell him it made my day." In fact, that photo is the photo I shared for his memorial. I just softened and blurred it a bit to help us understand that he's not with us anymore.

Good-bye, my dear traveling friend. You lived too fast and too hard. You're gone too soon. But we noticed you and thank you for letting us know you, to love you, and to serve you. It was an honor.

Here is a poem composed by a street youth for Tink:

Wrong Turn
Dedicated to Tink from Angel

When times are hard we run and hide
Seeking help not wanting to die
Afraid of my shadow that dwells within

Showing I'm not afraid or scared to see
I hide my pride in my self-pity

But all in all I know what's best
So now I lay my life down to rest

To my friends I am still here
Gliding through the wind but disappear
Do not cry I am still here

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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