lessons from Karl

images I have this theory that days take on themes where a lesson waits patiently to be learned. Days often seem a little tinted with a certain color. Today the color was yellow/orange like summer; warm and interesting, inviting and stimulating.

I work at a church and every Monday a meal is provided for the homeless.  People come into the office and we chit chat. Weather, schedules, jobs, food… Sometimes there is even an ask from them.  Sometimes they are in need of a bus token and I make the copy of a picture I.D. for the record. So it’s always a smattering of conversation.  Today I saw some down on their luck, some applying for a job, some completely destitute, another with mental illness. Speaking of mental illness…

Karl is a regular.I would guess he’s in his early sixties. In the summer he wears very, very, very short jean shorts. It’s almost indescribable. He seems unaware that he is exposed. He is constantly chattering about making copies and “sending documents to the Supreme Court. He was previously on death’s row and survived the electric chair TWICE.  His stapler (that he carries in a ziploc baggie) is better than any others ever made, with special configuration and durability.” This is what he talks about with great earnest. I don’t have a clue about what is true and what is false. The other day he left his stapler at my desk.  I knew he’d be a mess once he realized he’d left it.  I put it at my desk with a sticky note on it, displaying his name. And sure enough he came for it today.  He was working on a new case and needed more copies to make some petition to the supreme court. I am intrigued with his outlandish tales.  He speaks quickly but uses words that are far above my vocabulary. He speaks with brilliance.  Truthfully I know he IS brilliant, just lost in some scenario that he must bear alone. I try to be loving and kind, but the battle is his own.

I always wonder, “what is his story”? “Does he have a family”? “Is there help available”? I said honestly to him today, “Karl, I hope you can get this figured out”.  And I truly hope he can. He seems fueled with passion about sending these appeals to the Supreme Court; fighting some injustice; setting something right. And to be honest, as misguided as he is, something about that endeavor seems very sane to me.

Maybe that is the theme. Even Karl knows you do what you can. No more. But No less.

Fight something for Pete’s sake!

Whether it’s your health, wealth or an injustice you see that needs your hand and attention. Fight. Put effort somewhere. Karl taught me that today.

 

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