Soujourner

Hebrews 11.

I need a ride. Can ya help? I need to go HOME. To Sacramento.

Simple. Call me 917.321.4231

Christopher

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Three chords and the truth

It’s really hard to admit, after 53 years of toil…but I am mentally ill.

Could be worse. I could not know it…like most do not. You cannot convince them.

I am convinced.

It is embarrassing. Naked and a bit raw. I mean, wear it for a minute and you will feel it. “Mentally ill”.

Not nice…not clean …

But I know I am and that is worthwhile. Most who are mentally ill do not know or won’t admit. I do.

At the Eugene Mission is was everywhere. I sat with men who were far more gone than I could even imagine. One man, “Track” looked like Paul Giamatti minus his lithium. Scary. He scared even me and I do not scare easy.

Life on the streets is filled with those who are simply ill. They need meds and attention. I dunno…maybe this is my new calling because I am one of  them.

I am dual diagnosed. Thanks to my sister Heather I am on record as such. It matters. There may be a program for me.

Think of the men and women who are not so diagnosed and have no hope.

I Know.

Pray.

Mac

Faith hope and love

My exit from Portland was unceremonious.

I refuse to dwell. I move ahead in Eugene taking all I learned from Portland with me and laying aside anything not bore from faith, hope or love.

I will miss the Lads, especially Robert the Gangl. But he and I will meet again soon enough. I miss the Kierkegaard class and Kasey’s leading such a open and warm discussion. I miss the worship there.

I was changed and now I am doubling down on that change here in Eugene.

Still I left with hardly anything, not having the funds to transport what I did have along with me. It’s in good hands for now (or most of it).

Almost all was in my one backpack they did not wish me to retrieve just as I was leaving. I do not fault them. My leaving upset some and they flt it better I just go.

Still my lightsaber (Bible) is in that pack, and a Jedi should never go anywhere without his lightsaber. My calligraphy pens, ink…some marked up T-shirts with Zen Greek lettering. My art pens.

So as I get ready to check in tonight to the Eugene Mission I realize at night my laptop will be locked up along with my other bags (there are 4 times the number of men there than in Portland).

So I am at the most glorious library I think I have ever seen. If I could shoot it in Wim Wender’s Black and White (Wings of Desire) it would look like the library in Berlin.

I found what I needed: two Merton books: The Asian Journal and Love and Living.

The collection here in my particular haunts is staggering next to Portland’s run down library. Internet all day long too.

To the few who have worried there is no need. Every open and spiritual path has setbacks. It is what we do with them.

I messed up one day and I had to go. It was not much of a mess-up (as mess-ups go) but a deal is a deal.

I didn’t whine or argue. I just left. (Mac rule#2: “Never spend time with anyone who does not really want to spend time with you”)

God is very good.

I will continue to be a Monk. I will just not do so in an institution for very long. I will find work quickly, find a good roommate, a good church and settle in and serve.

Keeping it simple.

Word and No Word

Hope. Ink on paper.

“Elected Silence, sing to me

And beat upon my worled ear,

Pipe me to pastures still and be

The music that I care to hear.

Shape nothing lips; lovely dumb:

It is the shut, the curfew sent

From there where all surrenders come

Which only makes you eloquent.”

The Habit of Perfection by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Words On

Kierkegaard class with a delightful exploration of words meant to stir,  call and secure the hearer with Christ’s promise of restive attention in our individual burdens and lostness.

Smart lively people, a fine teacher, mindful commentary and a nice group spirit.

Then the pastor’s teaching on an enigmatic passage from Matthew 11. John the Baptist and his dirge; Jesus and his wedding songs and the decision by some to simply watch unmoved. She teaches with her English accent in a way that also hints beyond convention. Ironically, you can get wider audience with a good accent.

Communion at Imago Dei. Ink on paper. Feb. 27, 2011.

Later, working the front desk a man approaches. He starts to tell me about attempting to get SSI. I realize in the first few moments that he has begun to tell me about every injury he has ever had. He is 55 years old and is now at age 5.

I settle in.

I can multi-task. You really can think about two things at once if you do it really really fast in your head. So as I listen attentively to him I am also thinking about St. Jean Vianney, the Catholic saint who listened to people’s confessions and lives 16 hours a day and became famous for it. We need more listeners in the Church…that and a few less preachers. By the time St. Jean Vianney had bolstered me, the man was at age 27 and going end over end off a bike.

Out my fettered window.

H. comes up (a regular) and let’s me hold his $50 while he goes across the street to play $2 video poker. I tell him to leave after he wins.

“But then I can’t play and have fun.”

I look sideways. H likes it when I do my Robin William’s impersonation, so I figure that accent will help.

(As Williams) “H..do this. Walk in and ask everyone to line up..then throw your bills at them one by one. I promise…you will have more fun!”

This actually works. He leaves me holding his $50. Comes back ten minutes later with $8. He says “I told them I had to come back because you are so big!”

“Yessah! My grabbing you by the neck is like being choked by two large steaks!” He busts up.

Still later upstairs,  a brother in the Mission starts in about Imago. “Some chick got up and…”

um?...No.

I cut him off with a grin, saying in my William Wallace brough  (by now you have noted the accents theme) “and lemme guess…she played a song yeh-ya dudn’t dance; did a dirge but you wood naw mourn – bet you just sat there like a speck-tat-tor rright?”

Busted.

He laughed and that was the end of all that nonsense.

No Word.

But what of Hopkins’ poem?

In this world, with its cacophony of words we need silence without and within. My favorite lines are about “dumb lips”:

It is the shut, the curfew sent

From there where all surrenders come

A curfew sent from the seat of the soul is a powerful thing when it still the tongue. Powerful in its silence and in its faith.

Interspersed with all the words yesterday I had some wonderful alone time.  As silence beats upon the “worled ear” it is resurrected, regains its tonal receptivity and can deliver one to a place of peace beyond comprehension. Mystics have long understood this, but it is available to any man or woman who will simply turn off the tv and sit outback or in a quiet room.

Pascal said the hardest thing for a human being to do was to sit alone in a quiet room. I agree unless God fills that room. It’s okay to have an empty room or an empty heart given a God Who “fills all in all”.

I figure if I can do it here, at the Mission, I can do it just about anywhere except an IKEA.

Desk.