Who am i to know the joy I have known. Hold me for I fear I am not righteous but graced
'What water flowed through you life?
I had no bed and not even a room to call my own.
I slept in a tent about a mile up from White River Junction Vermont. Poaching fish was good. I could not afford fuel for my camp stove so sticks and kindling served me well. It rained or snowed most nights. And later I moved to a bridge where it was perpetually dry underneath.
I borrowed books from a church. I hung my clothes to dry on dead willows. I had some work but every penny went to my children back home.
I never did fall into depths of dispair for the wind and the fish had it far worse than me. A large grasshopper quickly fried and rolled in dandelion with fresh currant will suffice. And there are roots, that even in dark winter have starch and even proteins. Moss and lichen are sources of life that when mixed with even bad fish make for all you need.
But there was beauty in this martyrdom. There is a beauty of reality.
In the spring I cut the tips off my gloves so it would be easier to pick the berries and string a trout line without fumbling and yet without frost bite.
I did not beg but going about my business a man spit on me. Later that week I was kicked and pushed into garbage cans. I reckon it was my fault for I had not showered or shaved for a week and that was offensive.
Writing was daily and I wrote to my children. Twenty years later a son reminded me of how I would write questionnaires: Favorite -- anything. Best friend. Who did you help today? Did you hug and kiss your mom? These were questions that needed reflection and introspection and perhaps a bit of compassion. Not so much for others but for ourselves.
Potatoes are cool, no matter how bad they are you can cut off the bad part and add them to a fish head stew. Combined with willow bark and watercress makes for a great stew. I suppose the same can be said for men.
I shared with some psycho sick folk and I got some of them to got to Thursday and Sunday meals at churches. But mainly they came on by for me to walk up to a benefits place and guide them through paperwork for medical attention and some food.
You are blessed for you are better than me.
There is someone that you are doing better than, do you share that wealth?
I just got to tell you that life was good, stars shined and it was my choice not to pick up a pool cue and make money.
The time just did not last. I missed my kids and family of origin. So one day I looked around, sparsed my stuff, packed protein and water and hopped on to a slow moving train. Down to Manchester then Boston, then onto a corn hauler headed back to Kansas and lumber car down to Santa Fe where I caught the next train headed west and into the Great Southwest.
Funny rendition but I just love folks doing what they love.
It kind of sucks being me. I find joy in every tree. So moving on is always sad. Cuz I miss the good time had.
I want to tell you things are always lookin up for me. But I look back on a campfire back there under that New England bridge just a few miles from the Hudson and I compare to my view here of the mighty Pacific Ocean in a fancy restaurant and I feel no more joy here than there.
I got a buddy, my alter ego, who says "no matter where you go, there ya be, so you might as well be happy as me".
My three older children love to gather around and here my tale of homelessness and despair, and we laugh because I had a home, the earth and despair taught me much on how to love and appreciate this great big wonderful bountiful world.
Those of us who can actually track a tire through Manhattan are few and far between. Please do not spit on us.
Back to my desert
Well I took off once I got home.
Yep I headed into the desert. Funny that if you live under a bridge you are homeless. But if you fill your backpack and get a permit and head into the nowheres of the great country you are a hiker and camper. I do have to admit it was nice to have my camp stove, coffee, jerky and all my REI camping gear. A license and a fishing rod is a good thing. And being in the land you grew up in is great for gathering good eats. Nothing as good as prickly pear wine and Mormon tea for lunch. Pinon nuts and Aspen bark (actually between bark and tree) makes great broth and aspirin.
Funny how I can be one hundred miles into the wilderness and feel more at home than in a house.
Or perhaps that is not funny at all. I taught a lesson to youths the other day. I taught under a great big pine tree on a beautiful autumn day. I was dressed in a funny white robe and I just plopped down in the grass. I almost put my hand in some very dry dog poop. And that was it, the youths all stood around instead of sitting down and possibly getting dirty. I am sure they all thought me crazy as I shook my head and thought "what a huge disconnect there is between nature and our youth".
Let me tell you about the man that owns this house
Yep that is a beautiful wonderful home.
But about the man that "lives" there. He is homeless about 100 days a year. Sleeping on the dirt under the skies. Oh I imagine his worth is way over a million bucks. He owns a couple of companies and he has had success as an actor.
One of those companies is a river logistics company. Folks hire his company to do things on wild rivers. From movies and commercials to science and land management. He is definitely among the top ten best river runners in the world.
So that work keeps him in the wild doing his job over 100 days a year. You cannot drive to where he works and the boats are not house boats but white river running boats.
He sleeps on the ground and cooks outside and washes in a river.
Of course I do not need to mention those two other famous homeless guys, Buddha and Christ.
But the guy who "lives" in that home is more like the John the Baptist character. He literally lives down by the river and claims he is not worthy because of the greatness that surrounds him known to us secularists as nature.
Who am I to know such blessings?
I went through extensive chemo-therapy and was pronounced sterile. Which was fine because I had three children and that area of my life was well done and no longer a priority.
Seven years later I married a great gal, and we had no thoughts of having children. She was just too tiny and a bit old by then. Seven years later this old man and tiny lady were holding a small child after an emergency c-section and much drama. Four years later and Gabriel the angel we were blessed with is already ready for pre-kindergarten and is a light in many people's sight.
Now don't you have some blessings to go count?