Thirty-six years ago Elijah Alfred “Nature Boy” Alexander Jr. began a journey as a nomad when he experienced a “spiritual conception.”
“I became a preacher, and was preaching to follow Jesus, and I realized that if I’m telling someone else to follow Jesus I’m a hypocrite not doing it myself,” said Elijah sitting within Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. “And so I began my travel.”
Walking within the Lafayette Square near the White House it is easy to dismiss someone sitting upon a bench in the park, yet Elijah is hard to miss. With a ghostly white beard and dreadlocks, bear travel-worn feet, wearing nothing but a pair of torn jean shorts, just enough to cover what he says is “within the law”, Elijah spends most days in what he calls, “my D.C. office.”
“I come where there’s curious minds from all over the earth. They see me and those who want to know what I’m about will come and enquire,” said Elijah. “So this is my office space for making that exchange.”
Elijah got his nickname Nature Boy he said, “Because I’m living with one foot in civilization and one foot in nature, so once civilization drops off I will be able to survive without any problem.”
“I haven’t had to serve man to survive. I haven’t had a job for a long time,” Elijah told LivingSocial.com during an interview for their SocialStudies blog. “I survive off the things that grow. All species except humans survive by eating things that are produced naturally and that’s what I do.”
Elijah has become a sort of “natural celebrity” within Lafayette Square he said and while his “appearance is intriguing to some… in the past he has been arrested and charged with trespassing and indecent exposure, and he has spent time in jail for his half-nude dress more than a few times,” reported The Washington Post.
The National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, D.C., reported in 2007, “Officials estimate that, on average, single men comprise 51 percent of the homeless population”, and “approximately 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.”
“Most people think I’m homeless,” said Elijah. Yet, he is not homeless. “I chose to live like this. If I had regrets I couldn’t be a peace and content. And I’m a man of joy that means peace and content with myself and the consequence,” said Elijah. “Every experience has taught me a lesson.” Lessons he carries back to his apartment on his daily two-mile walk from the square to home.