Lisa, who once babysat my daughters and thought I was a terrible man because I hunted doves and brought them home and picked them, then cooked them on a bbq grill, while I got drunk, replied to yesterday’s another kind of Black Friday hidden in plain view – Key West, mostly post:
We bought a meal for a homeless man and his dog yesterday.
Somewhere in the Gospels, Jesus told his disciples he was hungry and they fed him not, and they asked him when did that happen, and he looked over at some beggars nearby and said even as they (his disciples) did unto the least of these, they did it also for him. Maybe that homeless man and his dog were Jesus and an angel?
Lisa replied: It made my whole Thanksgiving day. What a wonderful feeling. He looked so grateful. I put two cans of dog food in the bag too.
I replied: He was grateful, his pooch, too. Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Some years ago, I was given a slightly different version of that, which is: giving is receiving.
Lisa replied: And thank you for sharing that story out of the bible with me. Very meaningful indeed.
I replied: de nada, in fact, we could ask, wonder, when are we ever not in church?, in the sense that Jesus seemed always in church, albeit perhaps not in the way the church of his day, or churches of later times, viewed church.
In the movie “Brother Sun Sister Moon,” young Francis of Assisi had a vision in church, wherein Jesus asked Francis to help him repair his church. Thereafter, Francis fell gravely ill and seemed to be sure to die. His mother ministered to him and eventually he came out of it as if a miracle. Shortly thereafter, he had a falling out with his wealthy merchant father over giving away some of his father’s goods to the poor. That led to Francis stripping naked in the town square and handing his clothes to the town priest, and he walked out of town. He ended up at an old falling down stone church some miles away and, dressed in burlap, began rebuilding the church stone by stone. Time passed, he was joined by others from the town. Time passed, most of the common people had joined him. Finally, the area biship sent soldiers to the old church when Francis and his followers were away for the day, and they burned the old church and killed a man who had stayed behind to look after it.
Distraught, Francis traveled with two of his disciples, barefoot, in burlap, to Rome to seek audience with the pope, to be told why this awful thing had happened. On reaching Rome, they somehow got to where the pope sat on his throne, surrounded by his court in all its fine plumage, who wanted the pope to send the three beggars away. But the pope urged Francis to speak, and Francis looked around, forgot what he came all that way to say, and quoted the passage from the Gospels about serving two masters and the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, which enraged the pope’s court. However, the pope was smitten by something and came down from his throne and went to Francis and blessed him, and then the pope went to his knees and kissed Francis’ feet, and then the pope commissioned Francis to go forth and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christendom was the church Francis had been asked by Jesus to help him repair.
It is reported and recognized by the Vatican, that shortly before he died, Francis received the Stigmata, eruptions on his body of the physical wounds of Jesus on the cross, the first such stigmata recognized by the Vatican. The “beggar monk” Franciscans remain today a major sect in the Rome branch of Catholicism.
In the Gospels, Jesus told a man who had said he wanted to follow Jesus, so that the man would understand what that would be like, the foxes had their dens, the birds had their nests, but the son of man had no place to lay down his head. This was the passage I mentioned to Erika Biddle, when she first approached me about participating in Hidden In Plain View. She laughed, said she knew the passage very well, and had mentioned it herself to people from time to time.
A young pastor at Glad Tidings Church in Key West told me one Sunday afternoon at Higgs Beach, as his church fed perhaps 100 homeless people, including me, that that passage did not mean Jesus was homeless. He said Jesus had a home. I asked where? He said Jesus stayed with his mother when he wanted to be inside. I asked where was that in the Gospels? The young minister never was able to believe Jesus was homeless, even though it is in plain view throughout the Gospels that during his ministry Jesus was homeless in the secular sense, but not in the God sense.
I drove down to Key West yesterday to see “Life of Pi”, and en route stopped at a bus stop on Summerland Key and offered a man, woman and their daughter a ride into town. The man and woman politely declined, said they would wait on the bus, which locals know means waiting until whenever likely as not. I said I often give people rides at bus stops, they declined again. I drove on.
The movie was pretty darn interesting, if you are into shipwrecks, stranded at sea, faith, miracles and poetry.
Driving home, I stopped at a bus stop on Sugarloaf Key, same Key Mangrove Mama’s is on, and offered what appeared to be a homeless man a ride, if he was going as far as I was going. He said he was going to Summerland Key. I said to get in, which he did with a day pack and four plastic grocery bags holding his possessions.
He said he was headed to Summerland Key to try to find a friend who lived on a boat, with whom he had stayed a few times. He was up that way, he said, trying to find a woman on Sugarloaf who owned him a little money for work he had done, but she was not home. He said he usually slept at KOTS in Key West, and would sleep there that night, if he could not find his friend who lived on a boat.
I said I had lived on the street in Key West, and had stayed at KOTS. I knew that scene. He said I seemed to be doing better. I said my father died and left me an inheritance, otherwise I would still be sleeping at KOTS. He said not all that long ago, he lived in San Diego, had a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, a pretty good job, but the economy went south and he lost everything he had.
He said he had applied for Veteran’s disability and hoped to have that soon. I asked where he was in combat? He said it was after Vietnam, he was in “intelligence.” I said I understood, he could not tell me anything about that. He said, yes.
I said I once met a fellow in the St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen line, when the feeding happened at the church itself on Truman Avenue. I said after talking with the fellow a while, I figured out and said he had been in the CIA or something and he could not tell me about that. He said that was right. I said I imagined he was the kind of fellow, if someone messed with, he could make them wish they had never met him. He said, yes, that was right.
I was thinking about that fellow just before I picked up the former intelligence fellow on Sugarloaf Key. I was thinking I might write about him today, and then I picked up someone sort of like him, also about the same size – short and thin, or wirey.
The fellow from the soup kitchen and I became pretty close. He probably is the most well-read person I ever met. He spent a lot of time in the Key West library reading Barrons, the Wallstreet Journal, the New York Times. He knew the Hindu scriptures. He knew the Buddhist scriptures. He knew the Sufis. He knew the Bible. He knew anything I ever mentioned that had been written. He put me onto John LeCarre, the English spy thriller writer. He encourged me to read The Brothers Karamazov, which I tried to read, but Dostoyevsky’s introduction and the begining of the tale wore me out.
Except for a couple of years after he settled a lawsuit and had some money, when he rented an apartment, he lived outside, slept in plain view, and ate at the soup kitchen. At one time, he had been married, he and his wife lived in Key West together. She still lived in Key West. Sometimes they conversed.
He sometimes did soul art, which he sold on the sidewalk, if anyone wanted to buy it. He stayed low profile, nearly invisible. He said he rebuilt all the windows in the Customs House. He was a master carpenter. He worked a while at the Wild Bird Rescue Center, and had ringneck pigeons eating out of his hand and perching on his shoulder.
He also was prone to go on long benders, which invaribly ended whatever job he was holding down at the time. He introduced me to “The Breakfast Club” at Schooner Warf – no solid food.
I have a soul drawing I did of Dave in the fall of 2002, pasted to my refrigerator door. On it is written, “Patience pays.” He told me to keep it for him. He much later gave me one of his soul drawings, which has the yin-yang symbol on it, and is entiled, “Balance”. I have that pasted to a kitchen cubbard door.
Dave holds Pastor Omar, who used to feed the homeless every Sunday morning at Higgs Beach, in the highest regard of all Key West ministers. Omar fed the homeless there until County Commissioner Heather Carruthers and her Friends Higgs Beach Committee started terraforming Higgs Beach so that no homeless people could use the picknick kiosks ever again. That was where Omar fed the homeless. I don’t know where Omar feeds the homeless now, if he still feeds them.
I ate many Sunday meals with Omar and his flock, but eventually I wore out listening to his sermons which followed, and I stopped mooching off him because I didn’t feel right taking his food but not his words. Omar himself was homeless for a while, said often that the Lord lifted him up out of it, and he kept telling us that we, too, would be lifted up out of it, if we had the faith in Jesus that he had.
We all had faith in Jesus, we all but one Jewish man I might write about another day, since I was his next-door neighbor for several months in the first half of 2004, when we lived in tents just off the Bridle Path across from Smathers Beach.
Far as I could tell, believing in Jesus didn’t get one homeless person I knew in Key West, or anywhere else, off the street. Yet often I heard Pastor Omar and Glad Tidings preach it.
The fellow I picked up yesterday mentioned he had only a few cents to his name. That was when he was telling me about a seizure he’d recently had, which made him nearly bite his tongue in half. He said being homeless had taught him humility. He said all the tests the doctors ran on him came up with nothing, he was not epileptic, apparently. Maybe he was seized by Jesus? What do I know.
For all I knew, he was Jesus. We didn’t talk about Jesus or God.
When I let him off on Summerland Key near where his friend kept his boat, I gave him $20, which I said was for food and if he spent it on booze, I would come back and get him about it. He said he did not beg. I said that was why I was giving him the money. He had told me he was broke, he did not smell of booze, he seemed sincere.
He asked me my name. I said, “Sloan”. He told me his first name. I drove away figuring all of that was arranged for me to write about it and about the other former intelligence officer today. Of course, it was all arranged. There is no other way it could have happened.
After writing all of that yesterday evening, my dreams last night were pretty rough, lots of spiritual warfare. In the last dream, after dawn, some other people and I had almost made it safely to our destination, but the final leg was blocked by police and then I was told we needed to don nun habit to go the rest of the way, as if that would disguise us.
As I lay in bed pondering that advisory from heaven, I realized I had written nothing about Sister Moon. She was Francis’ childhood sweetheart, Claire, who joined his movement and took vows of celibacy after she realized Francis had married God and they never would be married in the human way. From Claire sprung the Poor Sisters Claire, the “beggar nun” counterpart of the Franciscans.
I also was reminded of homeless women I have known, but I felt I might write about that another day, as it might take a while to do that.
Then, I thought of Francis’ prayer, which is infused with the Holy Spirit, which is the feminine essence of God. Might be, Claire was the Muse for this prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Then I thought of this photo, which I saw posted on Facebook recently, and saved and sent to a Facebook friend yesterday, who has a pretty big following. A Vietnam veteran, he eventually moved to Scandinavia, as part of his shaman training and development. His name is John Horwitz, and he is a good friend of Erika Biddle, who introduced me to him.
This should be a major poster! Thank You, Sloan!
Jonathan posted this today to Facebook:
We can help one another to find out the meaning of life, no doubt. But in the last analysis the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for ‘finding himself.’ If he persists in shifting this responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am, and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you? Others can give you a name or a number, but they can never tell you who you really are. That is something you yourself can only discover from within.
Thomas Merton, Prologue to “No Man Is an Island”
To all of which, I add this which fell out of me in the spring of 1994:
Blood of Christ
there are no Rainbows
and God is dead