"You should come visit my church sometime, I think that your grandfather could find healing there." Martin's German-accented English seems odd in the middle of this Brazilian hospital hall, like a clownfish in a school of Tambaki.
"What church do you go to?" I keep one ear tuned to the cubbyhole of a nurses station where a specialist Dr. from the Adventist hospital is going over Papa's chart.
"It is the church of the Amazon. We meet out in the jungle and drink a special drink made from the leaves of a certain plant cooked with fibers of a jungle vine. And we sing beautiful music – hymns."
"Why do you drink this stuff?"
"So you can talk to yourself."
I burst out laughing and then bit my lip trying to stifle my rudeness.
"Really. So what does this stuff do on the molecular level?" Surely an educated man such as he would have put some thought into this.
"It enables you to connect with your inner self, to gain knowledge and insight. You need only five ingredients; the leaf, the vine, fire, water, and time." The more serious I realize he is, the more I begin to pray. "When you drink it, you connect with yourself, from deep down to your higher self and the higher spirits of the world. To find out where you came from and what is important in life."
"Those are questions that every human asks at some point in their life," I comment trying to gauge when I can mention the hope of my heart.
He nods gravely, "I was in Nepal for a time and I know the beliefs of the Buddhists, Hindus, and many of the other Eastern religions. They are good, but now I have found the true religion. The ancient religion of the Amazon it dates back hundreds of years to the indigenous tribes of this area. We also pray to Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary."
"And this religion gives you peace?" I ask. God, a little more time please, I can see the Dr. heading my way.
"Yes, more and more it does."
"Well," The Dr. begins, "I have looked over everything and there is no necrotizing tissue so there is no need to operate. The culture and sensitivity results have returned and he has been switched to the specific antibiotic to combat the infection. Here is my name and number, if you need anything call me."
"Thank you very much," I take the paper with his number and hear one of the nurses calling me to go check Papas' IV. Excusing myself I head towards the room, God how can people actually believe this stuff! So sad, empty – brown goo? Lord, I haven't had a chance to explain, but please plant one of your plants in his heart.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
10 months ago