For the troubled
1They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ 8 For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ 9 Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spiritsbegged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.
14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
“They don’t love me. They don’t love me. They…don’t…love…me. Hah! Hey, fatso! Hah!”
“Get away from me, you creep!” yells a pinion.
I call them pinions because they’re ugly. And they always kick me when they get off the subway – like they don’t see me laying here.
“Screw you! Hah! They don’t love me. They…don’t…love…me.”
“Sir, you’ve got to move along. Why don’t you go back to the shelter, huh? It’s gonna get up to a hundred degrees out here later,” says another pinion with a gun in his belt.
“Eat spaghetti, you fatso! Hah! You two-faced fatso!”
Pinion walks closer. “Sir-”
“Shut up, pinion!”
I stretch out my arms and fly to the next city block.
“They don’t love me. They…don’t…love…me!”
I can feel the worms moving in my stomach again. So I land and walk along the sidewalk to look in the church baskets. There’s a half-eaten sandwich. I snatch it out, stuff it in my pocket and fly away to another block. This time I find a new bag of potato chips and a bottle of beetle juice. I snatch them out, stuff them in my pockets and fly away.
“They don’t love me. They don’t love me. They don’t, they don’t, they don’t love me.”
The sun is my enemy. So I have to land and hide when he comes out to search for me. I go to my storage center on 73rd street behind the old post office and hide my stash there. I sit down on my couch and close my eyes because I’m tired from flying. I find mommy and daddy in my brain:
Alfred, honey, it was just ten dollars. Bobby needed those shoes for school.
B#@*!%! He doesn’t need anything! I didn’t have a g*d-d@mned thing when I was growin’ up and I’m still alive!
Shut the f*%! up, you whore! You got yourself knocked up so I could take you outta that d@mn trailer park that you call a family. Now, you think you’re gonna bleed me dry?
Shut up! Take it like the piece of trash that you are!
No! Oww! Alfred, please!
Alfred, don’t. Not in front of Bobby, please!
Why? The kid’s already nuts. You had to practically sleep with the principal just to get them to pass him. He’s a dummy! Must be from your side of the family!
That’s not right. Bobby’s smart. He’s just misunderstood. He just thinks differently. He’s a wonderful artist.
Pshaw! That kid ain’t no g*d-d@mned artist. He’s just a no-good piece of junk trash like you and all your entire sick blood line. If he doesn’t grow up to become a d@mn serial killer, he’ll just be a loser…just like your brother Bo.
You don’t mean that. He’s yours too, you know.
You gettin’ hot with me, b#@*!%?
You tryin’ to get fresh with me, you trash?
What did you say?
Alfred, no! Alfred…no!
Take that, you trash!
Clean that blood up…I’m already late for work….
Alfred…Alfred? Alfred, wait!
…Mommy? Are you okay?
It’s alright, Bobby. It’s alright. It’s gonna be okay…you’ll see.
Mommy, are you gonna die?
No, of course not. It’s just a little blood…just like last time. Mommy was okay then, right?
So, mommy will be okay now.
But I heard daddy say that he was gonna kill you.
I heard him say it to uncle Denny. He said he’s gonna give somebody money to kill you, mommy. And then when you’re dead, he’ll fly away. That’s what he said.
Oh, Bobby. That’s just your imagination. Your daddy would never say that.
But mommy, he did. I heard it.
Maybe you heard the t-v, baby. Maybe it was somethin’ you heard on the television. Or maybe from those crazy dreams you’re always havin’.
Mommy, I heard him. Honest.
Well, if it’s true…don’t you worry. Mommy’s not goin’ anywhere.
But, what if you die? What if you really die?
I’m not gonna die.
But what if you bleed and bleed and never wake up again?
Bobby, I said I’m not gonna die. Now go in the pantry and go get me the mop so I can clean up here.
But mommy, I don’t want you to die. I don’t want to be with daddy. Daddy’s always mean to me.
Bobby, now I said I’m not gonna die and that’s that. Nobody’s gonna kill anybody around here. Now go do as you’re told, please.
Bobby, you heard me.
But daddy doesn’t love me. He told me that. He might kill me, too.
Oh, Bobby! Alright, come here. Come here to mommy. Now put your hands together the way I told you. Good. Now close your eyes.
Good. Now, repeat after me: Our Father.
Who art in heaven.
Who art in heaven.
Hallowed be Thy name.
Hallow pee Thy name
Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.
Thy will be done.
As it is in heaven.
And in heaven.
Give us this day.
Give us this day.
Our daily bread.
Our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts.
And give us our debts.
As we forgive our debtors.
As we give our detters.
And lead us not.
And lead us not.
But deliver us.
But liver us.
“Hey! Get outta there! This post office is Federal property. You can’t sleep there, you weirdo!” yells a pinion.
“Shut up, pinion!”
“You shut up! Your weird babblin’ is scarin’ the customers away. Get outta there. Scram!” the pinion says back to me.
I stretch out my arms but they are tired so I cannot fly right now. I take the sandwich and run away to where my bed is because I feel tired. I feel sleepy and I want to sleep more. I feel tired. I lay down. The pinions’ cars try to fly into me but they can’t get me. I stay in the back behind where the cars fly around. That’s where my bed is. That is where I am safe. The pinions do not come here. They don’t know how to get here because you have to fly to get here and then you have to give the secret passcode and then you have to knock on the concrete wall three times until the door opens and then you come to where the grass is and you make your bed and then you lay down on your bed.
“They don’t love me…they don’t love me…they…don’t…love…me.”
I close my eyes and sleep but I don’t see mommy and daddy in my brain this time. They are gone. Mommy and daddy are gone from my brain. This time I see someone else. I see a tall man I have never seen before.
The tall man hugs me. It feels like mommy’s arms around me. I want to sleep in mommy’s arms now.
“My son, your father was troubled. Your father was very troubled and he never came to Me for healing.”
“Yes, daddy. He was plagued with guilt and heartache and grave sin. Your father refused My help. He refused to come to Me so that is why I could not heal him.”
“Pride. Grief. Guilt. Fear. There are many reasons why your father rejected Me.”
“Where…where is daddy?”
“It is not necessary for you to know. It is only necessary for you to know that your father made decisions that were not good. And that is why you were hurt. That is why your mother was hurt.”
“That’s why mommy was hurt?”
“Can you make mommy better?”
The tall man smiles at me.
“Your mommy is already better. She is in My house.”
“Can I see my mommy now?”
“No. Not now. You have more work to do, Robert.”
“Robert, you have work to do.”
“Robert, you are not your father’s son anymore. You are My son. You belong to Me. And I am calling you back.”
“Yes. You belong to me. You are My offspring. So I will clean you and make you whole because I love you.”
“But they don’t love me.”
“I love you.”
“Robert, I love you. You are My son. And I am calling you back.”
“Yes. You are My son. I am calling you back.”
“Who are you?”
“Who do you think I AM?”
“You smell like flowers. You look like puppies. You feel like my mommy.”
The tall man smiles.
“I am more than that. I am God. I am your God.”
“You’re my God?”
“You’re my Father?”
“I’m your son?”
“Yes, Robert. You are My son and I am calling you back.”
“You’re calling me back?”
“Yes. Robert…let Me heal you.”
“You’re gonna stop the bleeding?”
“I am God…that is how.”
“Let me put My Hand on your forehead.”
“Satan! Your time is up! Come out of him! The Most High commands you: Come out!”
Dawn breaks over my head in the hot summer sky. The sounds of car horns and screeching wheels startle me from my crude sleep atop filthy underbrush. I stand up and dust off my clothes as if such movement will somehow make them cleaner.
I am filthy. My fingernails are filled with years of dirt and soil. My hair is stiff with accumulated oil and sweat. My clothes are torn and worn at the places where I bend and move. Even my skin looks foreign to me, dark and spotted like a human leopard.
In fact, all looks foreign to me. I sense that I have awakened from a long nightmare. I am looking at what I have looked at before but with renewed perspective. I feel…I feel…alive.
My stomach roars with hunger, spitting and spattering like the engine of a truck barreling down the interstate. My tongue is parched and dry. My teeth feel like fur.
How did I get like this? I ask myself. Then I suddenly realize that I am asking myself with my mind and not with my voice. My mind feels swept clean, like an empty broom closet. My thoughts seem ordered and non-hurried. They stay in my brain, neatly tucked away in the appropriate mental drawers.
I recall the dream of the Man I met who hugged me and told me that I was His son. I remember it as clear as this morning blue sky. Even the warmth of His presence is still around me. I feel it. He did this. He is the one Who put my mind back in order. I am certain of it.
The first thing I want to do is find Him and thank Him but something in my mind tells me that I must first wash and eat and put on right clothes. So I leave from where I was sleeping which is just a miserable open field in the back of the interstate. I leave there, for good.
I walk to the center I used to always pass by. It is a center run by servants whose mission is to clean up people like me and set them on the right path. I used to pass them by when I was…well, whoever I was. But now, I am ready to go in. So I do.
“Hey, Bobby! Right on time. You hungry?” asks one of the mission house staff.
“Yes…but my name is Robert. Yes, I am hungry. But I first need to bathe and I need some new clothes and shoes. And…and I need a job. And I think I need to find a church…I need to find where God is and….”
“Whoa! Bobby, are you okay?”
“Yes, but my real name is Robert.”
“Can you help me? I want to get off the streets.”
“Sure…that’s what we’re here for! Wow! You seem different, very different. Did something happen?”
“Yes…but I just need some help.”
“Sure, sure. Sit there and I’ll get Miss Laura down here to get you signed up for the showers and some clothes.”
“You know…Robert, we’ve got a new program that we just got funding for. It’s a program that gives young men like yourself jobs in the city. And the jobs pay seven dollars above minimum wage.”
“Can I do that?”
“Of course! Miss Laura will tell you all about it. There’s a training program and you get to stay in a nice little dorm room for six months until you get on your feet. I’m glad you came in here because we’ve been looking for people to do the program but nobody was interested. They said it sounded like too much work.”
“Well, I want to work.”
“Robert…are you sure you’re okay? I’ve never heard you speak this way before. You sound…you sound…forgive me, but you sound clear.”
“I guess…I was just thinking of some things and well, Somebody helped me straighten some things out.”
“Who? A therapist? You’ve been seeing a therapist? They gave you medication, huh? That’s real good, Robert!”
“Well, whomever it was, they sure did a number on you. Even your eyes look clear. You used to have those eyes always dancing around, looking left and right. Robert, you used to be a lot different.”
“I…I was talking to Someone and He helped me understand some things. Maybe one day, I’ll tell you. I’ll tell everyone.”
“Well, if you say so. I like the new you, though. I must say, Robert, I like the new you!”
I sit down on the broken couch in the corner of the mission center’s main office. I see scores of ‘Bobbies’ shuffling in and out. They are all dressed slovenly as I am. They stagger about as if their crooked and disorderly gait reflects the state of their minds. I am astonished that I was there. I feel humbled and immensely grateful that I am no longer there. I feel it in my soul. I am no longer a ‘Bobby.’
God healed me. He cleansed my mind and healed the wounds of my past. He threw out the ghost of my father who constantly mocked me and beckoned me into a fantastical world. God claimed me as His very own son, destroying my lingering feelings of abandonment and bastardness. God claimed me and said I belonged to Him.
As I sit here, waiting for Miss Laura to help me navigate into the world of reason, I feel a sensation wash over my heart. It is something I felt once or maybe twice in my entire life. The sensation is hope; hope for a job, a home, friends, family; even hope for creating the art my mother always loved. Thank you, God, I say in my spirit. You are my Father.
Copyright 2020 Michelle St. Claire. All Rights Reserved.