It wasn't long after that he swore he would never come to the church again. Yeah, he was pretty pissed off at me.
He came to the church a couple years ago, during our overnight shelters. He had lived out in the woods, strung out on dope and drinking himself to death. After his doctors gave him a short time to live, he quit drinking and using and he remained clean, but he gradually drifted back to alcohol. In the meantime, he began to cook once a week for us. At first it was a day shelter, and then he cooked for our work day, providing a great... GREAT meal for the homeless who volunteered an hour or more. He used to be a professional cook, and you could tell. He could take the variety of ingredients we had from various sources and turn it into something amazing to smell and taste.
We had adventures together. He was with Styx and I when my car got rear-ended at the end of last year, and he had to go to the hospital because of a back injury. It took some effort to get him back into my (newly-purchased) vehicle, because he was nervous about driving. Not with me (after all, I was completely stopped when I was hit), but just being in traffic. He has a tenancy to run from situations he's afraid of.
He started living in an abandoned house just down the street from our community house. He was able to get some electricity and began being a host to a few of the local homeless, offering them meals and they offered him alcohol. Most of the time everything was okay, but one Thanksgiving one of the local gals had drunk a bit too much and took Dave's campfire turkey and the fixings, and upended it all in the dirt and threatened to beat Dave up. He doesn't take too well to that kind of behavior and made sure that she was excluded from his presence.
Another day, he collapsed on a sidewalk, and one of our housemates saw him. They called 911 and got him to the local hospital. The doctor told him that he had a seizure and if he was going to live any longer, he had to stop the drinking. So he stopped. For a couple weeks. Then, gradually, he climbed back off the wagon.
Eventually, his house was torn down in the ever-present gentrification in our neighborhood, so he moved back out to East County. He would hang out near the church, cook once a week, volunteer on other days and drink the rest of the time, both on and off the church property.
About a month ago, someone had taken his bags, I retrieved them for him, and he met me in my office. He thanked me for his bags and, shaking, he said he was leaving the church and wasn't coming back. "You have a lot of nice ideals, but they don't really work in real life." That someone was selling drugs and running a prostitution ring inside the church, and he wouldn't be a party to it anymore. I said that one person's word isn't enough to kick someone out, and that I needed proof. "I'll get you proof," he said in anger. I asked him if he had said this to others. He affirmed that he had told others, many others. At this, I lashed out at him, telling him that this was the kind of rumor that would destroy the church and he took his bags and walked out.
Today I saw him again at our local store. Or, more precisely, he saw me, and called me over. He was clean shaven with nicely cut hair. He looked really straight, more straight than I'd ever seen him.
"I kept looking for God at the bottom of that can, and all I found was foam. I kept drinking the foam to find him, but he was never there. I denied that God even existed, and now I know that he was there all the time, I was just looking in the wrong place. I need to thank you because you provided the opportunity for me to get clean from drugs two years ago, and now you provided the way for me to get sober by pissing me off so much that I had to find a new community to live with."
Then he shook my hand.
"Thanks for all you've done for me. Mind you, what I said was the truth, and I'll prove it to you."
"You know that it is my job to help bad, suffering people and give them an opportunity to change."
"Well, it worked for me."
He's been sober for 30 days, is now in an apartment with "so much plastic I don't know what to do with it all. TV, DVD player, CD player and a freezer full of food and cooking utensils." He's been going to an NA meeting every morning for weeks. "I don't need AA. I'm done with alcohol."