It seemed, when I was small, that I constantly got into trouble for who I talked to. The words meander through my brain now as I write..my dad would constantly warn me, “Don’t spend your time talking out loud to the animals. People will think you are odd.” I never had a sense of not being able to talk to the animals…they always talked back to me.
Then there was the local homeless person, ‘Crazy Mary.’ She wandered the streets of my home town dressed in every stitch of clothes that she owned with a shopping cart she had ‘borrowed’ from Gamble’s grocery. She was always kept in supply, by that same grocer, of the one snack that she adored…mustard covered sardines. Ma told me a few years back that my dad had taken me downtown (ten stores and a courthouse) one Saturday. We were walking along and my dad ran into an old friend of the family. After their conversation, they looked around for me and I was nowhere to be found. They finally found me sitting on the covered stoop next to the movie theater laughing out loud and sharing a tin of mustard covered sardines with ‘Crazy Mary.’ I was probably five….I knew no fear then, but in later years was taught to fear her just because she was different.
I think that is where my heart for abandoned people and animals started. I have never understood categorizing someone or something as having no worth. Surely there was something important enough about the essence of the spirit that caused that person or animal to come into being. I am scared to death of an opossum, but that doesn’t mean it has no purpose.
Monday of last week here in Atlanta was so pleasant. It was so spring-like in the evening. I came home to the roomie having every window open and the inside of the house smelled fresh….like the cave-like conditions of winter had been pushed out the windows. The plague of ‘green snow’ had not fully hit, so it seemed like a good evening to take Friz for a walk.
We walked our usual path toward the woods. It seemed like the perfect evening to just lie down under the canopy of branches and leaves that the woods had erupted into overnight. I talked to Friz every step of the way and he listened intently. As we rounded one of the corners of the complex over close to where we scoot off the pathway, I looked up and sitting on a column of bricks was a young man of about 28 or so with a medium sized mutt at his feet. He was dressed in a brown shirt with brown pants and a green hooded cloak. Everything he wore had a patina to it…you could tell that they had been well-worn. As I stood there tracing his form from head to toe, I noticed that the shoes he wore were black converse that had seen better days. The soles were falling off and you could see his dirty socks inside.
I trust my dog completely when it comes to the nature of other people and animals, so I looked down at Friz to see if he was giving me any sign of alert. He looked straight at the young man and his dog with his tongue out and his tail wagging…so I took this as my cue to move forward.
As we moved closer, the young man looked up at me underneath the hood and spoke softly, “She won’t bite. She is really gentle.” We moved even closer. Friz initiated the dog handshake and after they had both gotten a nostril full, Friz licked the gentle dog on his muzzle. The docile animal turned to Friz and only licked back. I leaned over and gave the dog a scratch behind the ear and he leaned in sweetly. The young man pulled the hood away from his face and introduced himself to me. “They call me the Green Wizard and this is my dog Calliope.” I weighed the situation cautiously at first. “They call me the Weathered Wiseman and this is Friz.” He leaned in to Friz to give him a scratch under his chin and Friz licked the calloused hand making its way toward him.
The ‘Green Wizard’ looked up at me and smiled as wide as his mouth allowed. “There’s gotta be something said for the wizard’s dog.” He laughed out loud as his dog and Friz rested on top of each other. As we sat there talking, he told me stories of his travels….how he prefers to sleep out among the grass and trees, under the moon and stars. He told me about the animals that work their magick around him and the importance of seeing magick in everything that makes it way to us. I watched as his eyes twinkled and he seemed exude something akin to faery magick.
Was everything he told me true? I don’t know. Was he who he said he was? Again, I don’t know. My dog liked him. His dog liked me….and honestly, he could ask himself those same questions about me. The only thing I knew for certain, at that time, was that I was able to spend a couple of hours talking to someone fascinating….someone who held a magick within himself whether I or anyone else around believed it. The magick within him resonated
something strong within my own spirit. Whether it was the truth that the world would believe, maybe not. But this was his truth…and for a brief moment, I was allowed to share it.
I only know what my heart felt like that evening. My heart felt completely alive in those couple of hours. It was as if the heartbeat of the Earth Mother sang in my own chest. Was the interaction between he and I dangerous? I trust my dog…and I trust what is inside of me. I know if there had been something awry, that my own spirit would have kicked into overdrive and our paths would have never crossed.
As we finished talking, I looked down at his shoes. Those shoes had seen so much travel. I remembered that I always kept an extra pair of shoes in my car and our feet looked to be about the same size. I asked if he would be there for a few more minutes. He told me he would. Friz and I sprinted to the back of the complex to my car. I pulled out a pair of athletic shoes that hadn’t been worn much….but they were about to embark on a journey that cannot even be fathomed.
Friz and I walked back to that brick column and I handed him the shoes. I told him that I wanted to give him something that would help his journey. He thanked me with a hug and asked if he might ‘give me a blessing.’ I told him that the time I had spent with him that afternoon was blessing enough. I bid him peace and safe travels. Friz and I stood there as the moon began to rise. We watched the Green Wizard walk toward the glow of the moon. That young man may never have another occasion to remember me, but he is etched into every corner of my mind and a place in my heart that I didn’t know existed….for eternity.