“. . . people with a noble and generous heart”
Luke 8:15 The Jerusalem Bible
It began, I think, with losing everything–his college degree in biology, environmental science, National Park management, a Park ranger, like the romance of joining the French Foreign Legion, the girl in that song–Laura–“the face in the misty light . . . only a dream” lost and himself as well
listening to Frank Sinatra’s recording over and over until beyond even the hope of a signal, only static, then nothing, what he chose–the barrens of West Texas, Big Bend, 118 miles of the Rio Grande River, an adobe house he built himself, certainly no television; rather the books he packed in for the nights he would need to read more than the stars–glitter sown across the darkness,
and he learned to read the river, rafting Carmac McCarthy between the cliffs sometimes closing in, Mexico always a possibility, autographed novels dropped off at his door, then Colorado, high country fly fishing, other women almost Laura, then struck by lightning mapping rights of way for a corporate electric grid, too ironic to be coincidental, winding up in Abilene, Texas, discovering a used bookstore, the owner, a woman, offering the books for next to nothing,
then an exploded appendix in a wasteland of prickly pear and rattlesnakes, gangrene oozing through his stomach, liver, intestines, weeks in a coma, absent too long to continue earning his almost $90,000 salary, now a derelict with a limp he can’t recall deserving, a hunger that drove him to the lunchtime queue at the City Light mission,
strangers saving each other, even him, their stories raucous, outrageous, the laughter of innocents lined up on the gallows, a perspective from which to comprehend Jesus, why he grinned when he said the poor you will always have with you.