Piano man

By Father Christopher Kubat

Recently, at the end of a warm afternoon, while walking through our parking lot, I encountered a middle-aged, homeless man who reminded me of Charlton Heston in his role as Moses in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments (only much thinner—my hunch is that this is the case because of a lack of four squares each day). His long gray beard was most notable, as was an absence of a full set of teeth.

He was pushing a wheelbarrow full of his belongings. I found this rather odd because most homeless people usually use a piece of luggage that can be pulled on wheels, or a shopping cart of some sort which are generally much more user-friendly. Most of us probably know how difficult pushing a wheelbarrow is. They are difficult to maneuver, especially if they are filled with heavy objects. It truly was a sight to see, observing this man pushing it through our parking lot. One unanswered question is how he acquired the wheelbarrow in the first place… I did not ask.

After saying hello, I found him to be genuinely friendly. He had an unlit, hand-rolled cigarette in his mouth. His wheelbarrow was filled with what some would say ‘junk,’ but to him they were treasures. The most notable item was an old keyboard, duct-taped together, wired to an old speaker. It is common that homeless people practice the art of Dumpster-diving, trying to sell what is gleaned. I assumed he was trying to sell the keyboard in order to make a few bucks. I did not ask …

Not long into our conversation, he bemoaned that someone stole his guitar but brushed it off in a good-natured way. ‘Easy come, easy go,’ as they say. Since it was dinner time, I asked if he was hungry. After answering in the affirmative, I disappeared to round up something to eat and drink. After returning I found him jamming away on his keyboard with the unlit cig dangling from his lips. He was really in to it, reminding me of Ray Charles playing the piano. I recognized the tune but couldn’t remember the title. I was duly impressed, to say the least. It was music to my ears. After copiously thanking me for the apple juice and food, he showed me the crosses around his neck. He informed me he wears them for protection because someone put a satanic curse on him. I immediately blessed him and we went our separate ways.

As we get set to expand our services to the homeless in our area under the patronage of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, please pray for our mission and all we do for individuals and families who come to us in crisis, like the man mentioned above.

Our St. Teresa Center will have a chapel, shower, laundry and a place where we can feed people inside; away from the elements. If anyone wants a closer look on what we have accomplished so far and our dreams moving forward, please contact me and I will be happy to give you a tour and explain further. St. Mother Teresa, pray for us and our outreach to the poorest of the poor.

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