John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise V

John Michael continues his series, reflecting on life and people encountered, with three new stories about self-love and forgiveness, giving what people ask for, and free coffee.


Allow Yourself Some Paradise

I had a dream last night there was a small white picket fence on top of a hill with a gate on it. It was autumn on the other side; the sun was shining with golden, yellow, and brown leaves on the trees and on the ground, it felt peaceful.

The thought that accompanied that lovely vision was, Paradise. That caused me some anxiety; part of me was struggling to enter, but part of me was holding back wondering if I was worthy or even ready.

Despite my recent struggles with this town, I am in a very good spot emotionally if not financially. Life’s pain can be completely overcome by this idea, or embraced in such a way that the pain is just another part of beauty.

I do a lot of drumming and digeridoo playing. I would recommend it highly for anyone who has PTSD or carries a lot of stress in their bodies. Anyway, I was driving around after a drumming session with a friend and thought, This is too much ecstasy. See my hesitation with good things?

I get a little upset with people who have been through some things and say the pain will always be there. In my mind, they may still have some forgiving to do. It just seems they are implying God does not want us to be healthy and full of joy. Although there must be a little of that in me as I sometimes wear my hobo status like a badge of honor.

A chaotic childhood does not have to lead to a chaotic life. I was walking along, taking some pictures on this lovely fall afternoon, and the thought that I was letting go of my past entered my mind. Resolving my past seems more accurate.

Some events in my past had a lot of fear and shame attached to them. Well, the truth is, I attached the fear and pain to them, God did not. They are just memories now and I have attached them with God’s love and peace.

Here is my advice: Allow yourself some paradise and some ecstasy every now and again. You are more than worthy; lovely child of the Universe that you are.


Give People What They Ask For

I met Angie last Summer. She was at the Reach Out Center (ROC) looking for gas money. Her boyfriend stayed in the truck looking upset and hostile. It is tough to accept “charity” if you are a man raised in a certain culture.

I was upset with the ROC because they were trying to help her with a thousand things she was not asking help with. She looked like she was in pain and I asked her about it. She explained that she had a lot of mouth pain and was only eating broth and soft foods. Lots of folks on meth have teeth issues; I assumed that but did not judge at all. I gave her five bucks which is all that I had. I could see she was grateful and her anxiety dropped visibly.

The ROC folks were upset with me because they were sure the money was going to go to meth. I didn’t care one bit. I have been over this a lot; the point I am making is give people what they ask for, not what you want them to have. You can find that in the Bible, written more poetically of course.

Angie is tough enough and used to surviving on the streets. I saw her at the center again today. She had facial reconstruction surgery recently after she found a plastic surgeon who would take Medicaid in Pullman. She claimed, and maybe he claims as well, that he used to work on rich folks in L.A.

She had quite a few plates and screws in her head, but she seemed happy. Her ex, not the guy in the truck whom she is still with, punched her twice and then stomped on her face when she was down. That is where her mouth pain came from.

I drove her up to The Salvation Army so maybe she could catch a shower. She has been staying under a fir tree in a local park. The boughs of the tree touch the ground and it is secluded. Well, some prison work fella got under the tree for some reason or another and it scared them both. The prison fella came running out of there saying, “I did not touch her, I did not touch her.” We both had a pretty good laugh at that story.

Angie said she feels older than her 35 years, but she looks about that age and does appear to be using drugs, or did. PTSD and fight or flight can wear you out. I could see her living on the streets into her 60s because she has the right attitude for that. But I sensed her heart is maybe yearning for a safer, softer life. A small apartment to start with, where her kids can come visit now again.

If you wanted to pray in that direction, I would not stop you.


Is My Body Real?

This is going to be a bit of a ramble; not in length, but a reflection on different thoughts throughout my day.

I was out and about this afternoon and ended up at Clarkston Starbucks after missing a friend I was supposed to meet. Earlier that day, I had the thought, Free coffee. Well, there was none at Starbucks for me or for a Veteran that rolled in. He was looking for a free caramel latte, but only the drip was free. He walked out before I thought to buy him one.

A friend and I went later to look for a free holiday meal in North Lewiston. Turned out we had the wrong date. But we stopped at the ice rink while looking for the place. Two huge, completely full ice coffees were sitting on top of the garbage. I am just finishing the second one, the first was a mocha and it was yummy. Free coffee indeed.

I lived outside for seven years of my life. I never slept in the wilderness during that time as I was exploring the wilderness of my wounded psyche. I mostly slept on the concrete under some lights in an out-of-the-way spot. I was having a cigarette on my buddy’s porch this evening and it is cooler in the Orchards. It just felt good to experience the quiet, the cool air, and the slight wind blowing through those lovely neighborhood trees.

As I slowly surrender myself to The Self, I have some odd thoughts while meditating. Only eternity is real is a Hobo Metaphysics of mine. So, who are we when we dwell in the eternal and what is real from there? As I meditated I had the thought, Is my body real? There was a moment of fear when I was not sure of the answer. I am still not sure, by the way, and am leaning towards, No.

Christ said, “There is only one who is good.” Fortunately, that one good one is inside us all. Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto yourself.


John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

Related posts