“A man can be in one place but

in all places he can never be.”

So said the vagrant. He was lost in

Pueblo, Colorado, on the street,

standing in harsh wind and brittle sun.

He was abject and worn and was familiar with

Becker’s The Denial of Death. I asked:

“When did you occasion such a volume?” He

was nebulous and shifty as a man with

bad secrets. His skin was gray, his

breath was a rancid pall of smoke and

whiskey. He mumbled a few words more

about a causa sui that had stolen his

longing for joy. When I wakened, he

hung ghostly off my left shoulder until

my stupor lifted. As I watched out the

bathroom window, over the creek lit in

moon and luminous pollution, for

there is no darkness anymore, I

reasoned him some share of

my spiritual atmosphere, a grizzled

mass of unclaimed dearth. I read

that book when I was twenty

nine, mending from my divorce,

wheedling on a return to

seminary and sensing that I was with

no one and was no one, homeless but for

the world before me. I was scarred of

death and heroism and got on with it.

Faith set in. I was to be in one place,

the occupant of just one life.

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