Street Stories NYC: “You can have children through the Holy Ghost without fornication”

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07/28/2008 12:00 PM |

This is contributor Jessica Hall’s weekly column, in which she interviews the homeless and street people she meets around the city. This week she spoke with Michelle Fabius, 60, whom Jessica had run into twice before.

Remember you said I could interview you if we met again? I think it’s unusual that I’m seeing you again. You really get around.

Yes. I walk all day. I have nothing else to do.

Yesterday was my birthday but I didn’t know it. I would not have been here today, but I was resuscitated in the womb. I was an embryo and I almost died. It took me a long time to discover this. I had to do a lot of walking to understand this.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Port Au Prince, Haiti, until the age of 16. I came here first through the associated state of Puerto Rico. It was 1966 and I had a green card the US had given me, and I studied in Puerto Rico two years, then I studied as a bi-lingual secretary. Spanish and English. I also spoke French, but when I came here I had to learn English more properly.

Tell me about when you first met the Holy Spirit (she had mentioned this on our first meeting).

I met with the Holy Spirit–he came down over my house. I was living in the Poconos, in Pennsylvania. I was 45 or 46, I can’t remember. I was married to a man; I had three kids with him. I spent 25 years with him.

Where is he now?

Now? He’s in, I don’t know, I think I heard…he died from… God’s spirit
gave me the message. One of my sons came and told me in spirit.

I used to have two sons and one daughter. You know, I went to the house
where they lived but they were gone. I called the police to find out
they had left the house. God’s spirit told me they had died. He
explained something to me: it was that we had a gas heater and someone
came, a wicked spirit, and opened the gas and something killed them
all.


And you weren’t living with them at the time?

No. I left. I was divorced by the age of 45.


I’m very sorry. How old were your children when they died?

They were still very young. And then I went to Haiti. The children were living
with their father. My ex-husband and his “Columbus,” his real wife. I was
very happy for him.


What does that mean, “Columbus”?

Because the Virgin Mary made this woman his real wife—she was
Italian. The truth is I didn’t know much about Columbus till much later
in life. I thought I was the wife of a white man, but he was a black
man.


How could you not notice that he was black?

Ha, ha, ha. If only I knew him—I wish I knew him like you know
yourself. The Virgin Mary told me it is his real wife. His Columbus.
Your senses don’t know everything, that’s why you need the spirits.


What did you do when you went back to Haiti?

Christ’s spirit traveled with me to Haiti, but it’s a long story.


How did you know he was with you?

Know? I knew he was with me when I saw him like I see you sitting here.


But what did he look like?

Different. He seemed to be the one who is attached to Saint Toussaint L’Ouverture. He’s an African national hero of Haiti. His Christ spirit from Haiti came down.


Did he look like a man?

Not like some of the images, but you would recognize him. He spoke to
me and I asked him, "Christ, I committed a sin with the man I’m living
with. I don’t know the name of the fault." And he said to me, "The name
of the sin is fornication."


Didn’t you know you had to fornicate to bear your children?

Why are you saying that? It’s a mis-concept. You can have children
through the Holy Ghost without fornication, without sexuality, without
your Columbus. Let me tell you–I went to Haiti with the spirit of
Christ. Christ met with some of the nuns and priests of Haiti and
families that knew Christ and they were very happy to receive his spirit.

I went to my old family to live with them. We had a bad time. The law
of abortion, this is prohibited. Spiritually they have stolen the
beautiful things, the American people.

It wasn’t easy for us, and we came back here. They tried to shoot me a
few times, some of the rebels and the spirit as well. I came back alone
with Christ’s spirit. Since then I tried to settle down again here, but the
wicked spirit from the family I was from was following me, they’re not
my real family, please don’t get confused. I didn’t know that when I
came here—they didn’t let me go see the other relatives. Anyway, I
didn’t want to endanger their lives with the wicked spirit.


Isn’t there some way you can get rid of this wicked spirit?

I went to a few shelters, but they (the wicked spirits) wanted to play
in the boiler room inside the shelter, so they asked me out. The police
came and told me not to come back.

The war is raging in the dimension of the spirit. Maneuvering our dimensional bodies as well as our spiritual bodies.

I’m with Christ’s spirit, who’s a strong spirit and takes care of things.


Are those all your belongings in that bag?

Yes, why not?


Where do you sleep?

Outside of course.


What do you do in the winter?

I don’t want to remember the winter. Now I wish I had a place to go in
the winter. I don’t think I can hope for much unless I die next winter,
which I don’t mind. It may be my destiny to die in the street. Some
people have a good hold on life. I have pretty good resistance, but I
don’t want to go past the part where I’m supposed to meet my destiny.

7 Comment

  • I love this series, but this installment feels a little exploitative. Like, this is just a schizophrenic being schizophrenic.

  • I think this installment is pretty consistent with the series. I don’t think Ms. Hall has asked any questions that are meant to poke fun — she’s just trying to have a coherent conversation. And as for this “just [being] a schizophrenic being a schizophrenic,” that’s kind of the point of the series, the prevalence of mental illness among the homeless community. You might feel guilty reading it but I don’t think it’s exploitative — if anything I find the transcriptions of the mentally ill to be a little tedious.

  • Tedious. I agree. The mentally ill might benefit from a couple of semesters at the iowa writer’s workshop.

    But seriously:

    “Didn’t you know you had to fornicate to bear your children?”

    “Isn’t there some way you can get rid of this wicked spirit?”

    Is the interviewer having a laugh, challenging the subject’s cosmology, or is she simply trying to give the poor woman a shot at catharsis?

    Maybe she’s just being polite, but I need emoticons to parse this baby.

  • Actually, I think the interviewer’s speaking to the woman in the language the woman has introduced into the conversation. Putting aside questions of whether or not the interview is all that interesting, the interviewer is actually going along with the subject’s cosmology rather than challenging it. To challenge her or catalyze some kind of revelatory catharsis, the interviewer would have to introduce doubt into the conversation, which she hasn’t at all. She is, in fact, being polite.

    The larger question of whether or not conducting interviews with the homeless and presenting them for our consumption as five-minute windows into lifetimes spent on the street is exploitative, is certainly valid, but if you’ve enjoyed the series up until now, I can’t see how this one is any different.

  • I am surprised that it’s taken this long for someone to post these questions and challenges to my column, so, thank you Dave, and thank you Jonny for your insightful responses.

    Jonny’s take on my interview technique is correct.

    Through these interviews I hope to give voice to a marginalized population that most people make every effort to avoid. The interviews, collectively, provide documentation of the homeless.

    Everyone who I interview wants to talk to me, and they appreciate the attention. They are often very lonely.

    I do wish that I could do more. I’ve contacted DHS and other agencies serving the homeless, and they have offered little help. I hope to use this column as leverage to pressure them, and the city, to do their job.

    I agree with Jonny that the interviews can sometimes be tedious, but I’ve found in these conversations there’s always a diamond in the rough, a nugget of wisdom or insight that I think is worth sharing.

    This interivew I found to be very haunting and sad.

    The question is, why is this elderly woman wandering the streets of NYC homeless and alone?

  • Thanks. Anyway, keep up the good work. No one else is doing this kind of thing.

  • Dear Ms. Jessica Hall,

    God bless you and the work you do. I am Michelle Fabius’ brother, the homeless person you interviewed recently. I type her name on the internet from time to time in the hope that we would be reunited with her someday. Michelle has two brothers and four sisters who love her very much… and we’ve been looking for her for a long time. Michelle is ill and needs a doctor. She runs away from her family, anytime one of us mention the word “doctor”.

    Michelle’s three children are alive and well, her daughter graduated from college and her youngest was also in college the last time I heard from them. Her ex-husband is now remarried and we have not heard from him in a while. They use to live at or near the Poconos in Pennsylvania.

    Michelle was born 07/27/49 and just turn 60 as she said. Everything she said When you asked her the question ” where are you from” is true.

    Nevertheless, her answers regarding the spiritual aspect of her life appear to be delusional.

    I have alerted some of my brothers and sisters and made them aware of your article. We have to decide how to handle this situation since we are afraid that Michelle will run away from us knowing that we will bring her to a doctor. We may have to explore the possibility of using the Baker Act, if necessary.

    Michelle worked as a secretary for a while in New York and may be entitled to medicare and medicaid etc…

    Dear Ms. Hall, we are truly grateful to you for finding our beloved sister and ask God to bless you and your compassionate work. Somewhere in Heaven, there is a reward for people like you, and would personally love to meet with you.

    Sincerely,

    Lionel Fabius