Q. Do you know who I am?
A. I really wish you would stop asking me that.
Q. Why have you summoned me?
A. Because today’s the Big Day.
Q. You mean, Tuesday?
A. Well – that, too. But it’s not just any Tuesday. Barring the catastrophic, I will finally be with my daughter for the first time in two years, and with my ex-wife for the first time in 16 years. And my ex and I will be sleeping under the same roof for the first time in 28 years.
Q. How did all this come about?
A. I believe you asked me that already, two or three Tuesdays ago.
Q. Can you run it by me again, please?
A. Whew – I barely know where to start. And I disdain to unveil personal information about my family here. Let’s just say that I’m a person who was on the streets for about twelve years in the San Francisco Bay Area. I learned a lot about people during those twelve years, and a lot about life. Of course times were hard, and moments were miserable. But I was given valuable information during that period of time that I have since been compelled to share.
I have noticed, however, that not everyone wants to hear this information. They would rather cling to old stereotypes that make them feel comfortable, because the truth would cause them to look inward, into places within themselves of which they are afraid.
Of course this has been disturbing to me. When I was homeless, I watched as old friends of mine, people with whom I had thought I would be friends forever, began to reject me one by one. They didn’t return emails or phone calls. They got all bent out of shape over relatively little things that gave me the feeling that, if any of these people had landed on the streets, they wouldn’t have lasted more than a week or two.
Before too long, I realized that most of these people were never my friends at all. In fact, there were times when I thought I had never made a friend in my life — until I had become homeless.
While people of privilege were blowing me off left and right with half-truths and transparent forms of Mainstream Doublespeak, homeless people were telling it like it is. Sure, there were scoundrels among us. Of course there were those it is best off to avoid, and yet the streets made it next-to-impossible to do so.
I was hit on the head with guns. I was pistol-whipped. I was raped. I watched all my possessions being burnt to bits before my eyes. Not one person in my former life who professed to believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins lifted a finger to help me. The only Christian who continued to believe in me, who treated me as a Christian, is a woman who knew me from the Internet, in a distant State, who never ceased to treat me as an equal, as a friend. And she is among my best friends to this day. But as far as people from the church I used to attend when I still was making money in this world?
They told me to go to counseling, to see a psychiatrist, to go into some kind of live-in program of some sort, or to merely “check in” to a shelter – as if they had any clue what bureaucracy would be involved, or what atrocities I would be subjected to in that so-called “shelter.” The shelters in my world were little more than glorified jailhouses, and I far preferred to sleep in seclusion, absolutely alone.
Did any of those Pontius Pilates actually help me? If you want to call an occasional lunch date at the price of a lecture “help,” I suppose they did. Believe me, I was grateful enough for the lunch to put up with the lecture, however irrelevant that lecture may have been.
The continual experience of condescension, dismissal, and disrespect that I received from so-called Christians was such a far cry from the acceptance, dignity, and love that I was receiving from my homeless friends, I would become infuriated at the thought that these “Christians” actually thought they were doing the will of God, when they continually treated a man who was suffering like a bag of dirt.
Even to this day, I have difficulty getting my own eyes to see the naked truth. Even in the last week, I appealed to former friends of mine, thinking surely they would express some happiness or joy over this reconciliation — when all they did was continue to raise their eyebrows and write me off as “crazy.”
But when the mother of my only daughter reappeared in my life, and I had learned that she had been through trials very similar to that which I and others endure on the streets, she didn’t write me off as crazy.
And the Lord Himself seeks such to worship Him.
Q. John? Chapter Four?
A. John. Chapter Four. The day will come when those who worship God will worship Him neither in Jerusalem nor on the mountain – but the true worshipers will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
The Questioner is silent.
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