Midnight Mission

Nice to know someone is leaving a light on for us.

Nice to know someone is leaving a light on for us.

Yesterday I wrote about my adventure of location scouting on Skid Row. Really, though, that was the first part of a multi-part story that I think I might still be in the middle of experiencing. In movie terms, it would have been the exposition: all the facts that the audience needs for the story to begin. Part two would be the introduction of some characters: because movies are about characters.

In this case, the character is the Midnight Mission: an organization rather than a person, but a character nonetheless. The  entrance to the Midnight Mission sits on the corner of San Pedro and 6th Street, just a block away from San Julian Street, which is the most dangerous street in Skid Row. Founded in 1914 the organization is a solid one hundred years old. It was started by a grocer who invited hungry strangers to join his family for an evening meal that was typically served at midnight. So it became known as the Midnight Mission and the name stuck.  In the present day, the Midnight Mission exists as a privately funded community center providing resources to all comers as well as an all men drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The “mission” is simple: give the help that is needed to the people who need help. Maybe this means a haircut or a place to sit during the day or a hot meal or a free public bathroom: basic, basic needs. Or maybe this means a place to get free of an addiction and a place to live during those tentative first years while trying to find a job. It is non-religious, but encourages spiritual growth. It asks no questions and requires no payment.

I could go there and ask for lunch and I would get it.

This was a point that our guide made in the course of giving us the grand tour and it struck me when he said it (here we were tourists in the most literal sense, alas, but hopefully for a good cause). I was no different than anybody at the Mission except by luck and circumstance. And luck and circumstance can change in an instant. No one tries to end up on Skid Row, after all.

If my first step in the journey to Skid Row came from looking people in the eye and seeing them as, well, people, then my second step was to look at the people around me and recognize that they were no better or worse than myself and that there was nothing to say that I would never be in their place or that they would never be in mine.

In the end, we all sometimes need a free public bathroom.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 17, 2014.

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