This is a piece I had originally intended to read at the now defunct Queering the Night event of Insight Arts.
I once sat on the train crying.
A man wearing a suit and tie sat down beside me.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I’m not one to open up to a complete stranger,
but when I found it easier to count my friends than count my tears,
I figured, “What’s the harm?”
So I told him about all the hurt from what was my past
and all the self-loathing from what was my present.
The man listened to every word.
He then said, “I believe that finding you on this train today was a part of the divine purpose,”
and he handed me a big book with a black cover.
“This book has all of life’s answers,” he continued,
“but it contains one story that I think will help you more than anything else right now.”
He proceeded to tell me a story with a passion unlike any I had encountered before.
“Amazing,” I said
once he had finished.
A man spends thirty years as a carpenter
and leaves behind his trade to join the clergy,
only to end up nailed to two pieces of wood.”
The man said, “But— But—”
“Hush,” I said,
and I handed the book with the black cover back to him.
“How can I accept any more of your stories?
At a time when I had nothing to offer but misery
you gave me the gift of wisdom.”
I then said goodbye, because my stop was approaching.
I looked back only once.
Though my eyes were dry,
I saw a tear in one of his.
Can you believe it?
Though he must have told that story hundreds of times before,
he was still moved to see the effect it had on a stranger.
I haven’t seen the man since,
but I remember his words.
If you haven’t realized it by now,
the words are not for me only;
they contain a lesson for us all:
Don’t be like Jesus;
pick up the hammer of your youth.
Sure, it is the head of this hammer that built the walls that now confine you.
But the hammer has a thing on the other side
that you can use to pry out the nails that hold those walls up.
Once we have all done this
we can gather with hammers in hand
and build something new.