Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle

Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle

Author:Gregory Boyle
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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Andres was abandoned by his mother when he was nine years old and left homeless for a couple of years. He has always been a clear example for me of the soul’s deepest longing to inhabit its truth. The one thing he wanted, more than anything, was to improve his vocabulary. “I was enumerating all the things I needed to do today,” he’d say. Then he’d add, “Enumerating means to make a list.” If he agrees with me, he says, “I concur.” He actually told a roomful of shrinks during a talk in San Diego that at Homeboy Industries he had managed to “metamorphosize” himself. Then he told them that means “change.”

One day he came to work and plunked himself down in my office. “Last night, I was walkin’ home from King Taco,” he said. “You know, on Soto. Anyways, before I get to my canton, I’m crossing in front of that tiny park. You know the one. I see an old man lying on a bench. He’s either asleep or tryin’ to sleep. There’s a half-full forty on the ground in front of him and the old guy, well, he’s shiverin’ cuz it’s cold. So you know my favorite sweater?” I nod yes, though I don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t want to derail him. “Well, I was wearin’ it and I took it off and I laid it over this guy. He didn’t wake or notice.”

For a moment, Andres enters a sort of trance. And then suddenly he’s shaken from it. “Hey, I’m not tellin’ ya all this so you think I’m AAALLLLL that.” He stops again to think, and some long-held emotional stirring comes to the surface, making it momentarily hard to get the next words out. “Nah, I’m tellin’ ya all this cuz I know that bench.” He gathers himself. “I been on that bench.”

Later, Andres shared this story with his therapist, who taught him a new word. “She told me,” he said, standing in front of my desk, “that I was a man of integrity.” The ego found its place so that it could rest in union with another, on a familiar bench. Andres found his true height.

A short rope. A leaf.


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