I went to see Art at the Mansion, we have a curious connection and he loves dogs. I wanted to ask him what he needed and also I had this impulse to pray with him. I came in with Red, the door was closed and the TV was on. Art, a man of great faith, spends much of the day in his room. We got him an air conditioner last week.
Art is eager to receive letters from people of faith and when I mentioned that on the blog, a number of people began writing to him. Art was excited, he took a cab to a printer's today and came back with some tracts and stories he wants to send back to people. "I have a ministry now," he told me yesterday.
Red came in and lay down at Art's feet.
Art has had a challenging month. He was living in Montana, a state he loves very much. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, a lover of the outdoors. He left his home and moved into the Mansion to be near his brother, from whom he had been estranged for many years.
His brother John was very sick, and Art wanted to be with him. He moved into the upper floors of the Mansion, John was down below, in the room Art now lives in. John died two weeks ago, and Art moved downstairs. He helped to bury John last week. He says this is not where he wants to be, but God sent him here, and he will love it because of that.
"Do you want to pray?," I asked Art.
"Are you a believer?," he said, startled and delighted.
"No,I think not in the way you mean, but I am a seeker."
Art nodded and smiled. We lowered our heads and I prayed silently, he prayed out loud.
He asked God to bless me and thanked him for taking care of his brother, and now, of him. I think he sensed I might need some help from God in becoming a true believer.
He asked for blessings for his new ministry and asked for guidance and support forgiveness for his father. When he was done, Art raised his head, and I said "amen." He then told me the story of his life in Montana, and it was harder than I had imagined, especially his childhood with a savage father.
He is very excited about his new ministry.
Some years ago, he said, he fell gravely ill, was taken to the hospital in Missoula, and was expected to die. He lapsed into a coma, and hovered near death for a long time. He remembers an angel, a young man, appearing and telling him to wake up, he would be all right. And he did wake up.
Soon after, he was in a dinner outside of Missoula, eating a huge steak and he saw the angel again, smiling at him.
I felt a great peace and powerful stirring as Art and I prayed. I am not religious, at least not in the conventional sense of the term, but I love contemplation and prayer, and Art's faith was palpable and strong, I could feel it in the room and see it in his eyes. I believe in angels, I felt there was one present with us.
It was my birthday today, yet I felt called to be there, in that room. I felt this was where I needed to be. I will not ever be a believer in the sense Art uses the term, but it didn't matter. I felt right at home there, and in the presence of such faith.
Art invited me to come back and pray more with him, and I accepted.
As I got up to leave, I asked Art if there was anything he needed. He said he would love to have a Bible, but his eyes are poor and he couldn't read one. He wondered about a tape of the Bible.
"What about a CD?," I asked. His eyes widened.
"I would love that, it would help me fill my days, now that John is gone and I am far from Montana," he said.
But then he frowned."I have nothing to play it on," he said.
"I can fix that," I said, "I'll get you a CD player." And he said that would be wonderful.
So I went right home with Red and went online and I ordered a CD recording of the Bible, The Complete Audio Recording Of The Bible, and a Sony CD Boombox with a radio. I have the money to pay for it. They will be here Friday and I will bring them to Art and we will pray some together.
You can write to Art at this address: Art, The Mansion, 11 S.Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. You don't have to join his ministry, but he would love to hear from people of faith.