A happenstance conversation with a homeless schizophrenic.Submitted by OathMeal at 2014-07-18 17:37:49 EDT
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I do this about every weekend here in Denver. It's a fun gig: I set up in an alley and just play music for people.
Some highlights of my experiences have included being given acid unknowingly, getting jumped by a guy in an Obama mask, having the cops detain a psychotic woman whole stole my guitar, and more recently, having a particularly interesting conversation with a homeless man.
He came up to me in the middle of my set and put his trash bag full of stuff down next to him before taking a seat on it. I didn't so much as notice him until the smell hit me. It was a like a combination of spoiled tuna, cigarettes and bird shit.
Kind of like Eau De Ghola.
Anyway, I didn't pay him much mind. I get a lot of homeless folks who stop by and have a listen, swigging from their plastic booze bottles and being generally harmless. If anything they make for a consistent audience.
This guy hung out for pretty much the entire time I was there - about 4 hours. He never even said anything until I started packing my things, at which time he stepped to me and asked me if I knew God.
"Well...I've heard *of* him," I said, "But the two of us don't go bowling together or anything. Why?"
He smiled and revealed a row of teeth that would give any dentist a deeply concerned pause. He had a patina of dirt and sweat covering his face, and his eyes were small and sunk far into his skull.
"I know God," he said, "I know him first hand and you can, too."
I didn't have really much else going on this particular evening, so I obliged the guy. Sometimes chats with homeless people are revealing and humbling. Why not. We continued on as I stashed a few cables into my case.
"Is that a fact?" I asked. The man was standing proudly and had an air of authority about all of this.
"It is. I have been other places and seen other things. People here on this Earth call me crazy and schizo and stuff. That's ok...I agree with them."
I listened intently.
"They're right. They are RIGHT!!" he continued, "I'm crazy. But then so was Jesus."
"Jesus was crazy?" I inquired, "How is that?"
"Everyone knows he was crazy," he replied, "who goes around turning bread into fish and walking on water and shit, saying he's god?"
I suppose he had a point.
I said, "So you believe in Christianity, then?"
"Hah!! Hell no. The bible is a mess. It's not accurate. They got so much shit wrong, man. So much shit."
The look of seriousness on his face was disarming. This man meant business.
"I have been out for two whole weeks now, man, and people need to KNOW about this," he said.
"Out of where? And people need to know about what, exactly?" I asked.
"The crazy house. The ward. You know, where they take you for being CRAZY, which I AM!!" he replied, "And I don't tell everyone this, but I will tell you because your music is good."
I tilted my head in earnest curiosity.
"Ok, tell me," I said.
"I became a saint in the ward." he said.
"Yea. I'm a saint."
"Really...you mean like Mother Theresa?"
"Nah man. Mother Theresa was a fake. She was a puppet for Catholicism. Nothing she did was saintly."
"I see...so what exactly do you do now that you're a saint?"
"I'm HERE, man! With you and these people and the streets...I'm here to tell them about GOD!!"
"Well I'd say you're doing a good job so far. I'm listening."
...we continued chatting for another 20 or so minutes. I found it quite bizarre to be having a religious conversation with a clearly delusional man - someone who was so convinced of his own holiness that it went without question. This man genuinely thought he was a saint.
Before long I could tell that he was losing his steam, though, and after he was done telling me about the difference between black angels and blue ones, I finished packing up and bid the man farewell.
As he watched me leave, he stayed in the alley mumbling incoherently.
His eyes never left me until I reached the parking deck and it was then that I got to thinking. Who am I to deny the man his certainty about being a saint?
What if he indeed was - and what if this is the form that saints truly take? Notwithstanding the craziness of Jesus, he *was* after all a homeless vagabond not unlike the man with whom I just interacted.
Even if he wasn't a saint, I chose that night to allow myself to believe he was. I took a brief swim in a reality where, there I was, just playing music in an alley in Denver and lo and behold, I encountered a living, breathing saint.
It was magical.
I am the way the truth and the hey you gotta buck.jpg