In 1997 there were about two thousand children living in the homeless shelters of Miami, FL. (There are more than twice as many now at the time of this writing, 2014.) Lynda Edwards, a reporter for the Miami New Times, submitted an article in June of that year documenting the folk tales and beliefs of these children. The article has become something of a quiet sensation on the Internet; it’s long, but it’s powerful and extremely disturbing. I first read about it in 2006, from my friend Kate Gladstone, who guaranteed that I would never forget it.
She was right. I have to say it is still one of the most harrowing and hair-raising things I’ve ever read. It’s a strange combination of the creepiest sort of fantastic horror — the kind you love to hear around a campfire — alongside the reality of homelessness and abject poverty — more mundane maybe, but no less horrible.
It’s a long article, so don’t feel compelled to jump right over and read it immediately, but it is amazing, poignant, and harrowing, and should be read. The children have collectively created a mythology that is rich, colorful, and choked with fear and desperation. For someone such as myself, who believes in various overlapping mythological systems, it raises all sorts of difficult and vital issues. Are the children really tapping into spiritual truths? Are they actually being contacted by spirits, as they claim? If so, why is their vision so full of fear and doom, when the visions of so many other spiritual people have so much light and joy?