More than a couple of times, has the thought of venturing out to his own hidden burrow, the abandoned warehouse only about a mile and a half away, tucked quietly among the many unused and discarded structures, laced through the warehouse district of the inner city, and as difficult as the trek through this blizzard might be, at least his bed of discarded paper’s and a couple of old blanket’s, sit’s invitingly inside, out of the wind and somewhat enclosed enough to give him protection from the elements.
Just as soon as the thought of venturing out to his protective harbor enter’s his head, it is quickly discarded, for the man who Angelo is with is too large, to disabled, and much too drunk for the smaller younger lad to even attempt to help a few step’s, let alone that distance. If he leaves him, he surely will parish, even considering how difficult it is to keep him awake right now. But more importantly, then this consideration is the conversation they are having.
The man, of which Angelo doesn’t even know the name, has always been one to himself, very rarely if ever opening even to simple casual greeting’s, let alone any conversations. Not that Angelo converses with many, for since being nearly deaf from as early as he can remember, any attempt’s at speech, or the garbled sound’s he himself produces, presented as sorry an excuse of talk as he is able and is rarely understood by any, but even so, is usually ignored by almost everyone he has ever met, discarded as the mumblings of an idiot.
For some unknown and yet unfathomable reason, this large drunk derelict of society today seems to understand him? And for the first time in Angelo’s long torturous short life, he has found himself not only talking to another individual, but the man is actually understanding him, he clearly seems to be even listening! No, I guess one could conclude that it would take an army to drag Angelo away. There is only one pertinent conversation topic and Angelo was not going to waste it, at least while the man is still conscious.
Angelo says a soft prayer to himself for the right word’s, and in the most angelically garbled and tattered symphonic way, he says;
“I know you have felt alone, discarded, unwanted, unloved, but I can tell you, never have you been, for there is a Father, who has loved and wanted you, even since you were a very small child, even before you were born, even unto the beginning of time.”
The larger man’s while not saying anything, the words are recognized to be heard and understood, by the small shaking sob’s Angelo feels against his chest, as he speaks and desperately tries to keep the man warm by holding him.
“It doesn’t matter what you have done, or what has been done to you, there is One who has paid the price with His own life, so all will be forgiven and forgotten, His name is Jesus.” Sob’s increasing.
“And He wants so desperately to for you return to Him, you have always been His child and you know it.” More of a statement than a question and all the larger man could manage now through the sob’s was a single strong head congested “Yes.”
“Remember, remember, when you were little,”
“When you were young, you knew, God was real,”
“Before the pain, before the loneliness, you feel it?”
A garbled almost choking sob..” yes..”
“You feel the love, the light, the warmth? Remember?”
“Yes, I do!” this time the words did manage to come out clearly through his sob’s and sniffles.
“Jesus died for you, and if you believe this, asking Him into your heart, you will become His redeemed child, His son, and you will have everlasting life with Him.”
“You too will become pure, a clean new child again.”
“Do you want this?”
“Yes I do!” the man now sobbing almost uncontrollably in the arms of the smaller man.
“Will you pray with me?”
“Jesus, forgive me,”
“I believe you died for me, I ask you now to come into my heart,”
“Lead me, help me, forgive me, make me your son,”
“Hold me close, never let me go,”
“Help me where I go, to never forget you and what you did for me.”
“Help me tell others..”
Fingers and arm’s now frozen numb, the initial stinging beginning to be replaced by just the gentlest warmth, as Angelo fades into a different kind of sleep, a more peaceful, more permanent one. One he has longed for, almost from the moment he was born.
Memories materialize in his mind, images of light and life, flashings of warm sequence across the soft summer breezes of his still minds ocean, they brighten as another image almost rising, a gentle lifting feeling starts;
He suddenly appears walking through the park on a sunny summer’s day, a day not all that long ago in his recent past.
Engaged in his own thoughts, head down, perhaps more out of the embarrassment from the condition of his dress present’s, or the tattered look the years of living on the streets, it’s own cruel hand pummeling scars and driving deep crevices across the skin, his young face now more looking like some long ago discarded leather boot than the face of any conceivable child of God? He hardly sees the couple engaged in a heated discussion approaching, in their own argument they move suddenly a step to the left and directly into his path.
Young Angelo walk’s along softly mumbling to himself, speaking word’s only God can fathom, the intricate delicacies with such sweet aroma’s play across the table of the King of the Universe. He delight’s in the Words, even if Angelo can’t see it.
Yet ground pull’s Angelo as well, it’s own cruel cold siren ever speaking a chill even into the very depth of Angelo’s bone’s; “Come lay down You dirty dead dog, nobody wants you, for from the dust you have come, and to the dust, you shall return.” Their cruel voices sometimes speaking in his head even upon his earliest memories. As difficult as it may be even to him lately, the soft indistinguishable tongue that seems to be God’s voice cut’s through the many garbled and cruel voices, sometimes blasting in his ear, the many others unrecognizable and cruel voices, he just ignores.
Not long ago, maybe just a heartbeat, yet perhaps a lifetime’s sentence in a coldest darkest dungeon, he remembers with but vague memories his parent’s, and so named by the weakest definition; cruel, more than often causing pain, being thrown around even as a very small boy, neglected, tormented, less than four, for no other reason than just announcing in the quietest sense, that he was there. So was the daily life of this very little boy.
Was it his mother’s lifestyle of crack induced prostitution, or perhaps his father’s alcohol drowned drug abuse that sentenced a small boy to a world of the deaf? Born with severe hearing impairment, garbling the tongue to the point in which people will always and only see him as stupid, or was it some more sinister cause, dished out by the hands of those who were called to love him? He would never know.
Hard to tell when this all began, he sometimes pondered, because of the severe beatings he would endure at the hands of the many people God had entrusted to bring care and raise him? The so many, who only dealt him cruelty and contemptuous abandonment, even before the completion of the mere age of four, it would culminate in the eventual locking him up in a closet and leaving him to starve as they would disappear from his short life forever.
Was it a blessing or a curse, the landlord finding him only a single day before he perhaps would have died, turned over to Child Protective Services and the long string of abuse with torments he had to face, all at the hand’s of the many foster homes that followed, was this hell only in the slightest fraction better? The neglect and torments were nearly unbearable, for many a day did he pray to God to take him from this cruel world, yet only silence was the answer.
When he finally reached the age of eleven, courage finally outweighed the risk of the unknown streets and young deaf Angelo crawled out of his last foster parent’s window, leaving never to return.
Years later the wandering young vagabond, now a young adult, the child of the Living God with head turned to the ground, softly mumbling to himself, to One in a very distinguishable tongue, it was at this moment he only just starts to lift it, as he crashes into a woman. The couple also so engulfed in the conversation’s of their own needs and desires, that watching where they are going, or even looking forward would impose too much of an effort on their own wants and needs. The two collide and she is thrown to her rear, hurting more her pride than anything on the backside, not so hard to the ground as her anger and disgusts’ response warrants.
Her repulsed gestures almost appearing to shake off the filth and stink in her own seeming disgust, as she begins to imagine that just touching the young man somehow made her dirtier than she already was. Her companion’s response was less restrained, grabbing the young street child and first nearly lifting him from his feet in a violent shaking display.
Any observer could have easily seen the hateful gleam across the smile of the woman’s partner as he seemed to actually enjoy his own embellishments of cruel indignation. He tosses the younger, smaller man rather violently to the pavement, and then just stands over mockingly threatening, as his own wife help’s herself from the ground.
To young Angelo, this was but one cruelty on a long life of almost daily abuse, for he never remembers the day in his life when he received in-kind any loving gesture of even the slightest type. Picking himself painfully off the pavement, watching out of the side of his eye for a sucker punch he almost expected to receive from the larger man, he flenches hard as the man makes a gesture to strike him, no strike comes only a sinister laugh as the brute makes sport of the weaker man.
Angelo almost stumblingly raises to one knee, gather’s the precious tracts that spilled out of his pocket into the dirt and mud, the only few he had left, placing them tenderly back into their safe place, a pocket close by his heart.
The larger man seeing them, begin’s immediately taunting; “Look honey, he is one of those filthy street preacher’s, that has nothing better to do than preach with one hand gripping his dirty little paper’s, and the other eager to pick the pocket’s of those who work for a living!”, he laughingly says with a cruel bullies sneer.
Then he violently kicks at the last tract just before Angelo has the chance to retrieve it, sending it flying in a crumbled muddy ball, just missing the young boy’s hand against the cement; “Leave it in the garbage! Where you belong!” He spits at the young man’s face, as to not only accent his contempt but to once more challenge him.
The brute’s wife takes him by the arm, “Come on, he’s not worth it.” Pulling him back into the direction and conversation she was interested in only moments before.
Angelo picks himself to his feet, wipes the spit off the side of his face, for he knows many bigger than that this one who have thrown him around and spat at him. He starts back on his journey, a bit more painfully, crossing the park to find a dumpster before it is too late to retrieve anything edible to eat.
How long ago had that been when he received his own first tract, that precious gift from God, with those few word’s he could but only just barely read, prompting him, no driving him into a hunger that almost immediately unlocked the steel doors of his heart, and opened up his faith in the salvation of Jesus.
He can so clearly remember it like it was yesterday; sitting, begging, head down, eyes closed, hand’s out, any penny, any nickel, just one less thing to steal, and suddenly someone puts that Christian tract in his hand? How strange it was, had it been but a moment, before he recognized that there was something different about what he felt, for in the same moment as he looked up, yet there was nobody even remotely close enough to hand it to him. It was almost like a miraculous appearance, it was this remarkable realization that made him check his first inclining to crumple it and throw it at the person who gave it.
When he examined it, the writing, the Word’s; Jesus, Love, Light, Faith, tenderness, care, all the thing’s he longed for his whole life, they all popped out at him from only those few word’s, and yet he knew that whatever, or however he came into holding this right now, it was directly from the Hand of God, and more importantly it was for him. He immediately believed! Right there and then he decided he would never steal again even to save his life, he would dedicate his life to somehow buying a Bible, and no matter how little money he made, he would use half to somehow produce similar tracts and hand them out.
How difficult is collecting cans and bottles for smaller “people of the streets,” how many time’s to just have his day’s effort’s taken by larger, stronger, cruel hands? There were always the dumpster’s, restaurants, grocery store’s that threw away good’s that at least kept him alive. He never felt that taking from the garbage was stealing, but often wrestled with this very assessment in his prayer time with God, especially when he would be chased off by store owners, often at the risk of physical harm.
One time a restaurant owner knowingly threw hot grease into the dumpster he was in. Thank God, for the most part, he missed his exposed skin, what did hit him already cooled enough to just mildly burn him, most just drenching his clothes. The irritation of the grease all over the only clothes he possessed not only made his night’s so ridiculously cold and wet for almost a week but made him smell so much worse than even he could stand, he ended up being sick for a week from that event. Needless to say, he never went back to that dumpster.
Thank God his one original tract was undamaged, the one he would take to the printer and copy making the others he would hand out, the thought this gift from God could have been damaged brought a thankful tear to his eyes it was only his skin hurt. His little pocket Bible he held in the same place next to his skin, deep inside his shirt, was a little stained, but it didn’t diminish in any way, all of the pages he could still read.
How he would just weep, as he would watch people take his tracts, just to tear them up and discard them. At least the people who threw them down or in the trash whole, he could immediately retrieve them, for people had no idea how many time’s he had gone without food or even the simplest luxury those few dollars could buy him, if just a washing of clothes or a warm wash basin, for his hand’s and feet. That was of course when the laundry mat owner didn’t toss him out, which was most of the time and case.
But somehow, someway, Angelo just accepted the fact that this was his life. He never asked God why, didn’t even pray for revenge, restoration, or even thing’s, and if anything, he just asked God, if He would allow him just once to just share, even if but with one person, that gift which he had found, the peace, the love, the end of loneliness he experienced; someday, someway, sometime, maybe a single time in his life?
Funny how the mind can wander even as a person walks across the grass of a park. But also funny how we can remind ourselves of all the hard times we have suffered, especially just after getting humiliated and thrown to the ground by the enemy, just because he and his wife can’t watch where they are going? Voices growing louder in his head now of anger, hurt, discouragement, unworthiness, start speaking to him, just inside the audible ear of winds of his own mind.
He never mistook the voice of the enemy, it’s voice always easy to recognize; “Why did you let that jerk do that to you, you should have cut him with that knife in your pocket.” “You see, your God doesn’t love you, why doesn’t He protect you, save you?” “It’s all a lie.” The voices, many sounding like the many men who have hurt him over the years, but sometimes women’s voices as well, most of the time he just ignores them, to the point where he hardly hears them anymore. But right after he gets hurt, right after the pain, the humiliation, their taunting comes in blaring like a pack of lions!
Anger was still twisting its finger’s around his tired heart that day. Suddenly Angelo notices a small kitten who walks across his path; weak, small, defenseless, tattered, almost pathetic, like a smaller version of himself. He has to change his stride to not step on it, taking him out of his thoughts, so he draws his foot back just a little farther, tempted to maybe kick the creature out of his way?
Angelo’s eye suddenly catches another man also sitting in the park seated just ahead, studying his Bible, but now locked in clear sight with him. A preacher, not just any preacher, but that famous one of the church just down the street from his cardboard bed. Many a time Angelo trie