It was about 8pm and I pulled up to a bodeda-like convenience store somewhere in Eugene, Oregon. Sitting outside the store was a homeless man screaming, spitting, flailing all around…
This was the sort of scene that any “sane” person would outright ignore or do their best to avoid engaging with…quite simply, too many unknowns.
Shocking to me, two people—a young man and young woman, were doing the opposite — engaging with this man. Crouched down on their knees, in front of him, talking to him.
And he was talking to them, or so it seemed.
I could feel they knew what they were doing, I felt their embodied confidence and an air of professionality, juxtaposed with a deep softness — this wasn’t their first rodeo.
Behind them was a truck with markings that said, CAHOOTS.
I went in to the store, got what I needed, and walked out.
On my way out I made eye contact with the young 5'4ish woman as she was walking into the shop. Though I could not see her face (she was wearing a mask), her presence and gaze pierced my soul.
Her bright blue eyes burned bright with the flames of life. Her gaze mesmerized me. I could feel the depth of her soul…or the reflection they offered of my own…especially in this particularly charged context.
I heard her speaking with the homeless man, and could feel a solidity of spirit that I found deeply attractive. In hindsight, it’s like I was receiving darshan from the white light filled eyes, and soft, but commanding voice of a kindred, humble, albeit, advanced soul — a bodhisattva.
I made my way back to my car and began to pull out of the lot, and quickly realized that what I was witnessing was too significant to exit from.
So, I sat in my car for twenty minutes or so, simply being, noticing, and witnessing this sacred exchange.
I considered going over and speaking with them, but given the situation and the dynamics playing out, it just didn’t feel congruent to do so.
So, I left…and thanked them out loud while I drove away.
I’m writing here as a means to publicly acknowledge these two extraordinary humans (and so many more who remain unnamed and unacknowledged) on the frontline of a very real symptom of western civilization.
The depth of compassion, engagement with human suffering, and service I witnessed, shattered a certain ceiling within my own consciousness.
I am inspired and feel hopeful.
Thank you for your kindness and care…and thank you to life for creating such inspiring humans.
“CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) provides mobile crisis intervention 24/7 in the Eugene-Springfield Metro area. CAHOOTS is dispatched through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communications center, and within the Springfield urban growth boundary, dispatched through the Springfield non-emergency number. Each team consists of a medic (either a nurse or an EMT) & a crisis worker (who has at least several years experience in the mental health field). CAHOOTS provides immediate stabilization in case of urgent medical need or psychological crisis, assessment, information, referral, advocacy & (in some cases) transportation to the next step in treatment.”
To learn more visit: https://whitebirdclinic.org/cahoots/