Unlikely Savant


As we move into 2018, the Questers blog will feature articles and stories from past Quester journals as well as stories and articles from current Quester members and from Quester friends.

We hope that you enjoy this wonderful story by Paul Elder.

Unlikely Savant

By Paul Elderimage
Every once in a while something extraordinary
happens — something so unusual that it
touches our hearts and minds in a special way.
Just such an event took place a couple of years ago, probably to remind us of the many wonderful mysteries of life.

One of the unique benefits of living on Vancouver Island is the necessity of traveling by ferry. A frequent traveler between the Island and the mainland, I’ve found that the ferry literally forces everyone to slow down and relax.  There’s nothing else you can do, so you might as well sit back and enjoy the incredible scenery.

On one of these trips a few months back, I made my way through the
passenger deck to the stern, looking for an isolated seat to curl up in. It
was a quiet day, passengers were few and I was happy to find the rear
of the vessel virtually empty. In the background I heard the gentle strains of a beautiful melody. At first I thought that someone was  probably playing a CD, but as I moved closer I discovered that the music was coming from a solitary man, sitting with his back to the passenger area,
playing a classical guitar.

Intrigued by the uncommon clarity of the beautiful tones resonating
throughout the cabin, I found the whole scene oddly out of place. The
musician was clearly a homeless person. His clothing and hair hung
matted and dirty from his thin, middle aged frame, a tattered touque
clung to the back of his head. He reeked of body odor. Carefully, I drew
closer, my eyes not believing what my ears were hearing.

Like a virtuoso performance, the sounds flowing from the guitar permeated the air with perfect clarity and vibration. This was no ordinary guitar player! Mesmerized, I watched filthy, stained fingers caress the
neck, effortlessly massaging the strings with the perfection of a master.

For more than an hour I became lost in the beauty and depth of the music this incredible musician poured from his heart. On numerous occasions I found myself blinking through tears, swept along by the haunting beauty of the melody and my sense of awe in the presence of pure genius.

Not once did this unlikely savant open his eyes or attempt to speak. I
tried offering a few words of praise and appreciation, but he simply
nodded and continued playing. Occasionally, clusters of passengers gathered to listen, murmuring expressions of surprise, eventually moving on, some shushing their children, whispering uncomfortably.

All too soon it was time to leave, and passengers began to return to their
vehicles. I simply couldn’t go without showing my appreciation. While
the man continued to play I noticed his backpack sitting on the seat next
to him, a side zipper partially open. In the next moment, I found myself
emptying my pockets, stuffing several $20.00 bills into his backpack.

Suddenly, he stopped playing, and abruptly turned to look directly at me. Setting
his guitar aside, he slowly
rose to his feet, stepped
towards me and pulled me
into a hug. Momentarily,
he drew back and tears
filled his eyes. My breath
stuck in my throat, and for
a moment time stood still.  Shocking and comforting
at the same time, his bright
blue eyes seemed to look
directly into my soul. My own tears and a sudden lump in my throat muffled my response. I
couldn’t speak.

Ending the embrace, I numbly turned and headed for the vehicle deck.
After just a few steps I stopped to look back — and to my amazement,
there was no one there. He had disappeared. All that remained was a
dusty, tattered toque.

In my car, the enormity of the experience set in. Had this really hap-
pened? How could he have disappeared so quickly? Yes, I recalled, there was a doorway near-by through which he could have left, but I
had turned away for only a few seconds. I checked my pockets; sure
enough, they were empty, and I would have to find an ATM.

To this day I still think about this most unlikely savant, and I can’t help
but wonder if he was an Angel, a Saint, or a master in a beggar’s body?And I realize that it probably doesn’t really matter — one way or an-
other, an Angel had touched my life.


This article is a reprint from the Questers Journal Volume 33 No 2 Journal # 103 Summer Solstice 2013 by permission of The Questers Board.

Paul Elder is the author of the popular book, Eyes of an Angel. A survivor of
several near-death experiences, he is a Consciousness Instructor at the world
renowned Monroe Institute’s Vancouver Island facility at Honeymoon Bay.
Website: www.monroeinstitute-canada.com