Grenoble, France 1981.
I saw the man as he approached the house. His tousled hair, unshaven face, dirty clothes and glazed eyes captured my attention. I wondered whether he lived in the small dwelling, or knew the person that did live there. But, for whatever reason, I continued to watch him. He came up to the door bent down and began conversing with the doorknob. After a few moments he turned around and made his way back to the street. He came to the next place and the scene repeated itself. The people I was with were now watching me. Apparently, as it was explained to me, France’s laws, at the time, were quite lax on what constituted a need for institutionalization. Basically, if you didn’t murder someone, you were safe to be on the streets. And many did just that, enduring the cold of winter and the loneliness of life without help or options.
Then there was the guy who would go through the streets singing worship songs. Frederick Tabailloux was certifiably out of his mind. At eighteen years of age he was going to America to go to bible school to then return and become a pastor like his father. I said goodbye to him as he left on the train. And I cried when I heard that he died within hours of arriving in the US. He had heart trouble that had kept him from the military. When he arrived at the house of some friends who had picked him up at the airport, he found they had a drum set. He loved the drums and sat down to play. He played a bit and then stood up, his body dying before he even had the chance to hit the floor.
I met an old man while there. I don’t remember his name. I only remember that I was told to let him kiss me. He kissed everybody and it would be rude not to accept this from him. Customs are different in France so I gritted my teeth and allowed this gray-haired old fool to grab my face and plant one on each of my cheeks. It wasn’t so bad when I looked in his eyes and saw what was there. I watched him as he went out to the streets and he began to call out to those around him. A large group of young people gathered around him and began to mock him and yell at him. The look that I had seen in his eyes never changed. The through centimes at him and spit at him and still his face, his presence glowed with what I had glimpsed in his eyes. Love, crazy, crazy love.
As christians, we can ask for things from our Father that make no sense, that no one understands. We have the authority from our Dad to command things, call things into existence, believe in the impossible. With the Holy Spirit inside of us, we can heal, speak, see, proclaim things that no one in their right mind would consider.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder. Are we closer to the guy talking to doorknobs? Or are those who deny the existence of the creator of the universe, ignore His call on their lives the ones who are deluded? Is it more sane to believe that man can help himself, that life has no eternal meaning, that there is no purpose for our existence beyond our fleeting lives?
I’ll take the crazy that says that I matter, not because I need to self-actualize, but because it just makes sense.
Call me crazy.