Tomorrow I will have a whole bunch of photos from Manila.
I have not been ready to write about it yet anyway…but the photos will be a push to get me to finish writing it all down…or at least to begin. I feel weird since I got home…in ways I can’t explain. I saw things that I will never be able to erase from my soul…things that I can not allow to NOT change the course of my life. I saw their eyes…I saw their souls……I saw the dark sewer that is drowning them, chaining them, trapping them, tricking them…..I saw the way that people are disgusted by the sewer and so do not see the soul drowning in it…they just look away.
But something happened tonight that showed me just how much of a shift in perception and heart I had there….something really happened to me there. A big cracking open and a huge healing up…..I am different. I feel whole….more whole….I feel expanded and smooshed all at the same time. Cracked and glued back together.
I had to drive my daughter out in the bitter cold. I was at a bookstore in a town I usually don’t go to. My daughter had an event that lasted a few hours, and rather than take her there and drive the long way home…I decided to stay and wait until she was done…so I found a bookstore….got a warm drink…gathered a few books and sat down for a few minutes of solitude.
I was reading a book about art.
A big tall bearded man, clearly homeless (or so it seemed)…walked up to me and asked me if I was an artist. He was disheveled…hairy….not very clean….in old military clothing and very tall and large. He talked really loud. Everyone in the bookstore could hear him. He just walked right up to me like he knew me. He started talking to me before he even got over to me…maybe 5 or 6 feet away from me…he just looked at me and started talking and headed toward me.
Normally this would have frightened me or made me feel uncomfortable. I would have made a reason to get up and leave quickly….. but I didn’t. I didn’t even think about it.
I thought about all of the people in Manila that I sat and talked with on the streets…people who, at home…I would have walked past because of social stigmas or because I was afraid……but I thought about how it was natural there to want to be with them and help…and how when I looked…I saw them….and how their souls ached…how they felt invisible and forgotten and less-than. Actually, as I was talking to this man….I didn’t even think about all of that until after he left…I didn’t really have to…it was easy what happened with him…
I just looked into his eyes.
That is what I learned in Manila….that those girls in the streets and the bars and the brothels…….no one really looks into their eyes…just at their bodies. Same with the pimps…they are hurting too.
We need to look into each other’s eyes. Seriously. When did we stop doing that, anyway?
I looked into his eyes. They were kind. He just wanted someone to talk to. He told me he was also an artist. He took his coat off and showed me all of his tattoos. He designed them and had someone put them on him. I asked him to sit down.
He sang me a song that he wrote, right there in the bookstore. It was a song about how he gave up whisky and wine. He told me that sometimes he sings it on open mic night hoping it will help someone out. His hands shook erratically while he spoke…back and forth…not like he was jittery….like there was something in his muscles that he just can’t control. He quoted verses of scripture that keep him going. He told me that when he was in the military, he got a head injury…and now he lives in a home for the mentally ill, where he feels like he is going more crazy. (and this is where I had to swallow the big lump in my throat…thinking about my husband’s head injury and how easily this could have been HIM)
He told me about the music he likes…and how he likes to write songs. He asked me if he could sing me another one of his songs.
He told me that he has had a few ladies in his life, but none stay very long. He told me he is too old for that now anyway. He told me he likes to read books and learn as much as he can. He told me that he has some inventions up his sleeve that he is going to make happen someday.
I don’t know why I would have walked away from him before I went on this trip. Fear, I guess. I could feel others staring over at me as I spoke with him…I realized that I wasn’t even embarrassed and I didn’t even care what anyone in that bookstore thought……even though he had a really loud voice…and talked a lot like a child. I really just wanted to hug him. Sometimes he sounded a little bit paranoid and erratic. But…really….he was just a guy…a soul. He had a rough life and now he is alone. When we started talking…he was really just like me in so many ways…and just like you. He just wants to be seen, understood, accepted, loved, heard.
He really was so kind. He gave me 15 minutes of his time…maybe it was longer. I feel better for it. I would have missed out big time if I would have walked away…looked away….turned away. When we parted ways he took my hand and said “God Bless you, Melody.” And I said “God Bless YOU, Steve” …..I will never forget him.
So……..really….I am so done looking away, turning away, walking away.
That is what I brought back from Manila.
(and I can’t wait to begin to tell you the stories of all of the days we spend there)
Love and love and love and love and love.
And then love some more.
Please. 🙂 (for all of us)
Thank you for listening to ME…it means a lot.