(If you have not been following the last two posts, I am copying entries from old journals to share a story of my spiritual experience relating with a difficult person in difficult circumstances. Skipping a couple of journal entries, entries where I report actually having a measure of depth of conversation with him (which lent itself to spiritual matters), I want to share one more fascinating report on Bud the invisible man and my answer of God’s call to love him. For background on this post, see the previous posts on this subject.)
September 27, 1996
Once again I want to make an update on Bud, the invisible man. He has been less and less vulgar around me. It’s not entirely gone, but it seems to be dissipating. I do my best to ignore it and force the subject of conversation to change when it comes out. Sometimes this gracious method is successful. [And anyway,] it seems to come up less frequently.
Today Bud told me about a dream he had last night. He was in a bar and was “checking out some chicks.” They found out he works at [unnamed corporate complex]. They figured that meant he was a [test] driver.
Bud said he didn’t want to “tell them the truth, that [he] really cleans toilets for a living.” Besides, they were impressed that he might be a test driver.
Then he said I came into the bar and saw him. [Suddenly I had become a character in his dream.] I came over to talk to him, and he was trying to “give [me] the hint” that the “chicks thought [he] was a driver!”
Well, that’s really about all he told me about it. And, well, I thought [the dream] was noteworthy. It reminded me of one of Jim McGuiggan’s stories in his book Applauding the Strugglers. The story was called, “Pretend you know me.” The very first sentence in that story is this: “J. H. Jowett called Jesus a ‘receiver of wrecks.'”
Then McGuiggan tells a story about a bum on skid row. This bum always told big stories of better days of wealth and prestige etc… The other bums never believed a word of it, though.
One day he saw a successful man across the street and in desperation claimed that he’d known the man in years gone by – that they’d done business together and were close friends. Of course saying that was a mistake, because the other bums urged him to prove it.
Well, out of desperation the bum approached the rich guy and whispered, “I’m not looking for money or handouts… but please, mister, pretend you know me!”
When the rich guy saw the other bums he figured out what was going on immediately and let out a loud whoop and threw his arm around the bum. He said, “I haven’t seen you in ages!” Then he cleaned him up, fed him, gave him some cash and new clothes, and then went on his way.
The bum went back to skid row then, but now he had dignity. The compassionate rich guy hadn’t been ashamed of him. That’s how I want to be with the riches God has given me.
[The writings above were my thoughts at the time. Here are some reflections I have today after much more maturity and hindsight. The inside/out of Bud’s dream and the fact that he shared it with me revealed multiple facets and levels of my relationship with Bud. He was dealing with the same social anxieties I was, and lacked the words to express them – for one thing. And he was telling me what it was like to be on the other end of these anxieties – for another. I could tell that our friendship and the social anxieties it thrust upon both of us were important to him if for no other reason than he actually dreamed them and then spoke about it.]