“So what happened?”
The air in the room became thin, my heart began to race, and a warm blast of paranoia ripped through me quickly. I was slightly shaky, my hands a bit trembling, my teeth clenching.
“I was homeless….” I had said it one million times in one million forums, but this time, it proceeded into a place I had always dismissed, it continued into a part of my soul that I had always shut down, shut out, for fear its bitterness would poison me. “….and I’m so ANGRY because of it.” I said it through pierced lips. For the first time I had said it with the emotion that it was entitled. I was ANGRY. And on many occasion when the right frame of mind claims me, I’m STILL angry.
“You need to learn how to forgive,” she said in quiet response, studying me with her cat eyes, hands putting back herbs she had gathered, grabbing different ones now that I had made my claim. “You can only work through that anger with forgiveness. I’ll dress some candles for you. They’ll smell medicinal, but that’s fine, because that’s what they are….medicine for your soul.”
I watched her take small candles and press rocks against them inside baggies, then pour in oils and herbs. “These two are for immediacy. We need to get you working on this right away. This other candle,” she reached for a third and began to dress in the same way, “needs to take a little longer. Let it burn for three days.” She then handed me two stones that she had doused with clove and frankincense and told me to put them in a small bag for under my pillow or mattress. “We cannot help with your teeth until we get to the root of your anger. You need to forgive someone. This is why your teeth are grinding…..Now, it’s up to you to reflect, work through it, find out who it is….and then we can worry about your teeth.”
I did as I was told and went home, lit the three candles….and waited.
You know? It’s would have been easy for me to pick out the usual suspects. Whom needed forgiveness? I claimed quickly my family. They didn’t need to let me be homeless, and for that I’m angry. But, it didn’t feel right. Have I forgiven them? Hmmm. Yes….but I haven’t forgotten. Lifelong friends, those whom I’d known for decades, they came next in thought. Forgive? Hmmm. Yes, but I’ll never forget hearing those phrases, so boldly spoken without a moment of reservation that I still hear it to this day, “No, you can’t stay with me…..I’d never get rid of you.” Stinging, biting. As though I were some horrid cause that kept having issue. Well, YEAH! If I had a place to go other than the streets I could pull myself together! I don’t speak to those people anymore….But, I forgive them. What do I care now? So, nothing seemed resolved.
Two of the candles were burned up within the span of 30 minutes, and slowly it dawned on me.
I went to the mirror and said quit simply, “YOU. YOU did this…. You can’t blame anyone else. You were cocky enough to think that you were so valuable you could leave your job and anyone would be lucky enough to hire you….but, they didn’t, did they? Nope! And even THEN you were foolish enough to keep spending your savings as though it were a limitless supply…..”
I had never forgiven myself for the hell that I had put myself through. Becoming homeless was because of my stupid arrogance. No one else can take the blame for that. I looked in the mirror and said, “I forgive you for making the dumbest mistake of your life….and doing something good with it.”
Had I never done that, I would never have met any of you. Had I not screwed up so badly, the most important things in life would never have shown themselves to me; had I not destroyed my life, I would not have been blessed with a rebirth that learned more about the intangible, rather than the commercial. Had I not lost everything, I would not have ever gained everything that a man requires in life: love, hope, compassion. I would not have a life now had it not been for the foolery I can now fully blame myself with.
The three day candle finally burned itself out and I felt the tight muscles in my face soften. I slept that night without grinding. Mario curled under my arms, my back pressed firmly against Phillip’s chest to spoon. Had I not made the most disastrous decision of my life, I would not have this life now. And I just can’t imagine any other way that things should have turned out. Happy, close, loved, holding to hope….and better for it.
This is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.
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