The world was being the world and I was being me, so I walked into the Cathedral of Saint Stephen and knelt down and watched some people rehearse some kind of choir song. I looked at Jesus at the altar, on the cross, and I told him that I was sorry for the garbage truck of horrors inside of me.
There was a man a few metres away from me in a white shirt – some old guy who was standing about, his posture slightly askew like he was some kind of awkward cactus. He walked over to me. “We suffer so that we can learn to love.”
“Sure mate,” I said to him. He looked at me for a moment before walking away.
I kept kneeling there, looking at Jesus, until the man returned.
“It’s going to be a hard life,” he told me. “I have suffered a lot. You will suffer a lot. I have had a hard life. But this is how we love. This is how we connect. Have you listened to the Happy Prince and the Small One? Listen to this, and you’ll understand everything.”
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Thor. Like the god of thunder.”
“Are you the god of thunder?”
“Are you a Catholic?”
“What do you think of homosexuals?”
“I think they’re fine. I have plenty of homosexual friends.”
I looked at him. He was standing still, but he was shaking at the same time. There must have been something wrong with his leg or hip or back or knee – I didn’t bother asking him what was wrong. He had green eyes, and he looked at me like he’d met me before. “When you pray, don’t ask for anything, because everything was made perfect. Pray to just converse with God.”
“Didn’t Jesus encourage us to always ask God for favours? Ask and you will receive, and all that?”
“That’s too deep for you at this point in time.”
“Where am I at in my life?”
“I can’t tell. But I know I came here to talk to you.”
We looked at each other in silence for a moment before he continued: “You need to put others first. Remember that, you need to put others first.”
“I think I have to go,” I told him after we conversed some more. “Will I see you again?”
“I go where God takes me,” he said. “I love you, Dean.”
I watched Thor walk away. I wanted to follow him, to see where a man like him lived. But instead I just watched him put on his jacket and leave the cathedral.
I think, if as soon as we were born, we were given a precise checklist of what we needed to do to be happy, to live fulfilling lives, to understand the purpose of suffering, to go to heaven, we wouldn’t do it. We’re too rebellious. We need to fuck up and be shit on before we understand the truth and beauty in anything. And then we make our own checklists.
I spent the next evening Googling “Thor Brisbane,” and, “Strange old man Brisbane Thor in cathedral,” and “Catholic Thor Brisbane” but couldn’t find anything useful. I went to sleep, hoping that I’d some day meet him again.
Book I’m reading: Ask the Dust