Raggin' Piano Boogie Daily Blog

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May 14, 2018

Las Vegas, Nevada

Please do not give to the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities. Most clothes contributions are tossed and money given only goes to the bureaucracy of paying salaries. Give one-to-one! Here in Las Vegas, Catholic Charities gets all its food for free of course... yet charges $4 per meal to people living on the streets and gives bed preference to those that pay for overnight shelter. Staying at the Salvation Army is $15 a night for those living on the streets... bed bugs are free and you must be out at sun up. And they both accept welfare and medicaid that people need for other purposes. What a disgusting racket these so called charities are. I know well that there are those who will try and spin the faults with good deeds that they do. That does not work for me. If you a charity do not charge money in order to be charitable to those you serve or worse try to teach the idea of self-dignity through self-investment with the use money. That is just bullshit.

For over a year I have heard about a priest who serves dinner to people who are poor every Monday night at 6:30PM in an area called "The Field" in downtown Las Vegas. So, in figuring ways to work with the heat coming on... tonight was the night to check it out. Once a month the priest says mass on the sidewalk and one of his helpers told me I would need to move the Traveling Piano truck back to make room for him. Of course this got my trusty antennas up for control and territory issues. So, I saw this priest get out of his vehicle and almost right away he started the mass without asking for me to stop what I was doing or anything. I found that impressive and of course I stopped out of respect. Then I watched him as a crazy guy interrupted the mass and he became an example for others on how to deal with the situation. The priest was a master with embracing the moment of what "is" through God's love. The crazy guy got the respect, attention or whatever he was trying to fulfill for himself and moved on.

I watched the priest interacting with people the entire time, people with all kinds of agendas. He went up to every person he could... volunteer or otherwise and I thought to myself, the real "tell" will be whether he comes over to me with acknowledgment as he seems very much like the "real deal" and I am a first time visitor. I've been at the rescue mission twice weekly now for several months and I've never even seen an administrator let alone be thanked by one. I am always observing whether "givers" are acting from a sense of ego or spirit. Well... father John McShane did come over to greet me amongst all the people and chaos. This priest has been ministering God's love at this very spot for the last eighteen years! He is a Catholic Diocese Priest with some Jesuit education in him. He started the Las Vegas chapter of the St. Benedict Labre Homeless Ministry, named after an 18th century French mendicant. Mendicant is a term I've never heard before. I am a mendicant but do not belong to a religious order. If you do not know what the word means I want to encourage you to look the definition up!

Catholic Charities wanted to take over the handling of father McShane's work as well as the Archdiocese but he would not allow it. As a result he has many volunteers that show up every week who bring home cooked food and clean clothes to share with everyone with no bureaucracy or conditions. I was very impressed with the entire situation. There were even people without homes volunteering to clean up the area when all was finished. Not one piece of trash was on the ground when I left. Father John waits until every person is gone before he leaves. We had a little unsaid "hold out" because that is something I also do, lol. It felt like I kept creating music waiting for him to leave and he kept waiting for me to stop so he could leave. For me it is a sign of following through until the end of the job, a sign of respect and humility. I hope to make this place a weekly commitment. It fits like a glove. And of course once again, people coming up to me to describe in detail their experience of discovering the Traveling Piano as in the music, Mo, the truck and myself... the experiences are continually priceless and full of appreciation and gratitude.

I do have one problem. My needy issues when I am at a places like this. I don't get to eat any of the food, get any of the clothes etc... because the Traveling Piano work is more important, there is no time for anything else. As It is... I get little time to create music because so many other people want to get onto the truck for some musical fun for themselves. It can not be all about me and my need, need, neediness! People think that I have resources. I do, below bare minimum. I live off of food banks myself and I have the teeniest of rooms. I've been making friends from the streets. People can smell the truth and agendas of others, especially those that need to do that for basic survival. Strangers trust me. People know I am out for nothing more than Fun, Friendship and Respect along with Musical Empowerment and Inspiration. Living a life of this fact for me is as fulfilling as ever having experienced rural nature as one and the same in spirit. It is worth the living as a mendicant. Even though, I must deal with the feelings of neediness all the time.