Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
Men in Occidental Park

Jerusalem, Station 6:
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Seattle, Station 6:
Occidental Park.


Occidental Park is still one of the main gathering places for homeless Native Americans and African Americans, with an increasing number of Latinos. Food Not Bombs serves a free meal here every Sunday at 5 p.m., despite occasional threats from the city and the police.

Many homeless men work day-labor. One day-labor center in Seattle is the Millonair Club, on Western Avenue. Recently a Spanish-speaking day-labor center, Casa Latina, started in Belltown.

On Sunday, not even the day-labor centers are open. The library is open for only a few hours, and that only in the summer. The major drop-in center available for men (First Avenue Service Center, on Third Avenue) is thick with cigarette smoke. Many men prefer to be outside, especially in good weather — although you can't spend too long in one place, even a park, without attracting police attention. Some of the free meals are served only during the week; so there is less food available on Sunday.

Consumers review of Food Not Bombs meals in Occidental Park:
"Good food, good people, good artwork."

At 4:30 Tomas began walking across the city to the park where the young people served the evening meal.

He arrived as their van was unloading, and he helped to bring out the tables, the tubs of soup and potatoes and salad. After all of the people waiting had gotten food, those serving began to take turns dishing up a dinner, then came to sit among them and talk. The young man named Jake, who knew some Spanish, sat with Tomas and his friends, and they joked about the noise of the Blue Angels that kept flying over the city last week.

After the van left, Frederico offered everyone a rollup. He had gotten work on Friday, and had fresh tobacco.

Several men left early, to sleep in the mission. Tomas would not sleep there. Too many men in one small space, he did not like to breathe the air. He would go down to one of the piers to watch the sunset. Later he would find a place to sleep along the waterfront. He slept lightly, and carried a knife in his boot. He had never been bothered.

Maybe tomorrow he would find work at Casa Latina.

Station 7
Stations of the Cross: the Spiritual Geography of Homeless People in Seattle