Art is coming to love Red, I don’t think he paid much attention to him before, and he calls me his brother.At the Mansion, we had a long visit together, when I knocked on the door and came in, he was watching Dr. Phil on TV, he said it was his favorite show.
We said and talked for an hour, he told me many mystical fire-and-brimstone stories from Montana and other places he has lived – bullets missing people who are believers, criminals miraculously transformed, mystical tales of faith and redemption, and of brutal punishment and suffering for people who defy the Bible., or who are profane do not fit into once conventional ideas about marriage.
We have an understanding, Art and I, he doesn’t press me on my beliefs,, and I don’t argue with him about his. I do urge him, when the moment is right, to speak more gently and softly about his ideas. He has told others he wants to save me, but he has never tried to do that in my company. We get along, we talk easily, he reaches down to stroke Red while we talk, he is even happy to turn off Dr. Phil once I come inside of his room. ( thought he was reading the Bible in there.
More of his Biblical text books have arrived, this batch is not controversial, the quotes from the Bible on his chest are almost soft.
Art sees his fate as being ignored and despised, he almost sees it as God’s role for him. That, he says, is why he is here, to tell the truth of the Bible as he sees it. The thing about Art is, he doesn’t care a white if you like him or approve of him or agree with him.
Art thinks the people at the Mansion hate him and want to be rid of him, but I have never heard anyone at the Mansion say that. I know he can be intimidating and difficult, that is quite obvious, but the staff is well-trained and patient, they just roll along with him, and seem to glide through his condemnations of homosexuality or anything else he thinks contradicts the Bible.
Art is always challenging authority and what he sees as immorality, most of the residents stay clear of him, he is especially gallant to women, opening doors for them, helping them navigate their walkers, guiding them to their rooms if their memories fail.
He gets in a lot of trouble, and is often cautioned about being too belligerent or argumentative. He says this has been happening to him his whole life. He smiles when he talks of it. That is his mission, I think.
The real sin with him comes if you lie to him, that seems to be one sin that cannot be forgiven. He and I do not lie to one another, and his stories are rich and full of fire and brimstone and a fiery and frightening God. He is a natural story teller, and so am I.
Art knew that Red was sick and he offered to say a prayer for him, and he insisted, for me as well. So we sat in his darkened room and he prayed for me and Red. Red, always the intuitive, sat up straight and seemed to me listening, I am sure he knew Art was speaking to him.
We have prayed together before, and in his prayers, Art is nothing but gentle and empathetic, he is never judgmental or argumentative.
I liked the prayer, it was sweet and from the heart, a side of Art many people do not ever see.
Come and see. If you wish to write to Art, you can do so by sending your letters to Art, The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y. 12816. He will be honest with you, and you can be honest with him.