I recently met a man who was rather wizened. His hair and beard were white as snow. He was bent over and not just from the bulging back pack he wore. He leaned heavily upon a cane. Still, there was a youthful air about him especially that twinkle in his eyes. He entered the place where I was working and asked to use the bathroom. Now even as I prepared to utter the standard words often uttered in the heart of Boston, he stopped me. “Yes, yes, I know. You don’t have a public restroom. But this is an emergency.” Isn’t it always, I thought.
But then he proceeded to share the nature of his emergency and so after making a quick call for coverage, I helped the gentleman to the bathroom. It was a circuitous path down several small flights of stairs and around some corners. He moved slowly and so he and I had time to chat. And as he talked I could not help but remark, “Sir, you do have a way with words.” He laughed. “Well, I should. I’m a writer.” As we eventually made our way back up the stairs, we talked some more. Once again I remarked upon his way with words. He chuckled, that youthful gleam awful bright. “Have you ever heard of The Pilgrim?” I hadn’t. ” Thumping his chest, he said, “Well, I write for The Pilgrim.”
I saw him to the door. We wished each other well and that was that. I forgot about our encounter until today, for some odd reason, and decided to look up his magazine. I was not completely surprised but still a bit startled to see that it is a publication written by the homeless. It’s edited by Atlantic columnist James Parker and published out of Boston’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul. You can read more about the publication via this link: http://www.thepilgrim.org/#!about/c69s
After reading several entries on the Pilgrim Blog, I almost titled this blog post “hard reading.” The writing is intense. Of the pieces I’ve read so far, one of the most moving passages, Adam Staggering, was written by someone who is no longer homeless but still adrift. And then there’s The Bed Lottery by Ricardo. The print publication must be filled with so much more and that is available through subscription.
I’m glad my path crossed with that of the wizened little man. I only wish that I had asked his name so that I might know which pieces he had written.
Image Source: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Head of an old man.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-ca87-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99