Recently, I had one of those moments that really made me question my faith. (And this is after having emergency surgery for internal bleeding. And falling asleep at the wheel at 65mph, crossing three lanes of traffic, missing a telephone pole by two feet, and plunging into a construction zone. Both true stories from this past year.)
For those who know me in the physical world, I lost a dear relative of mine a little over a year ago, to cancer. And if that experience couldn't have been tragic enough, irony had to make its appearance, by taking someone I love away, on Valentine's Day. Just like the marathon runner who becomes a paraplegic, the professor who dies of a brain tumor, or the health-nut who is diagnosed with multiple-sclerosis. My grandmother died of stomach and liver cancer, when she swore she drank all of twice in her entire life. (The poem Chanel No. 5 is dedicated to her)
After, losing my grandmother, Norma Lenora, I went into one of those all-questioning states, where I wanted to know the point of everything and if everything even had a point. That summer my questions were answered, blatantly with two shocking, eye-opening events (as mentioned above). They were definitely signs, screaming loudly "Sarah, wake up! Your life has meaning. You are here for a reason. You can't live in fear. Figure out what it is you want and do it!"
So, I did. I began efforts to reacquaint myself with myself. I wrote down all the things I ever wanted to do and began to dissect the steps that were needed to do these things. I wanted to go back to school for my master's, so I began the process of applying; putting together a manuscript, gathering recommendations, aligning my work schedule. Very positive progressions, toward a grander scheme.
But as I reached in that positive direction, other aspects of my life seemed to struggle to keep up. My relationship with my boyfriend, teetered. My job became a droning, aggravation. I found myself in fits of depression and frustration, when all I wanted was to glue myself back together, and be happy. I felt like I was back to where I had started after the passing of my grandmother, and wondered if all my efforts were in vain.
It was a gray, mid-week day when I was given another sign. I had just finished having coffee, with the unwavering love of my life. The day wasn't all that different, from any other day. The conversation, the usual. The moments, beautiful. But as I left the comforting, perk that is my relationship, and wandered back to my car, I saw something fluttering on my windshield.
At first I thought "Oh shit! Another parking ticket!" But when I pulled the paper from underneath my wiper, I realized it was a Christian pamphlet. I will premise this saying: I have always prided myself on having an open mind. I know where my comfort zones are, but occasionally walk on the outskirts to see what other pools of thought have to offer. I also know what makes me uncomfortable; what makes me back away with my hands up saying, "I don't want any part of that." Displays of violence and racist remarks make me squirmish. Aggressive behavior and crossing personal space boundaries make me uneasy. Being a female, alone, in a dark alley is a situation I avoid. But another infringement on my comfort is, unwarranted religious preaching and propaganda.
Intuitively, I felt that pang of uneasiness sneaking up on me. I looked around to see if I could catch the perp, who sneakily slid their ideals onto my car. But the only people on the street, were a couple sitting in the doorway of a run-down, Thai restaurant. They probably saw the solicitors, but smiled their big, toothy grins and watched with amusement as I huffed into my car, with the literature clenched in my fist.
I threw the pamplet on my passenger seat. (I have too much of a conscience to litter). At the first street light, I looked over at the 3 x 6 booklet, gnawing with annoyance. I shook my head. At the second light, I coyly leaned over to read the title, just to satisfy my curiousity. It was called "I'll do it later." At the third light, I began to read.
This wasn't the typical Christian propaganda that I had become accustomed to over the years. It wasn't like the mini-bibles handed out in front of bars and on college campuses (I make a donation to the Salvation Army every couple years, because I am too scared to throw them away). Or the unnerving preacher, with the card board sign and cross, who you try not to make eye contact with on the street. Between these pages, a story unfolded, just like a funnies cartoon. And I was intrigued.
The character's name was Johnny and in each frame Johnny was seen procrastinating through his life, from a young boy to a grown man, always making the excuse that "he would do things later". Then one day a friend of Johnny's approached him about "being saved" and Johnny responded as he had always had "I will do it later". But Johnny dies and he is sent to hell and the caption reads: "Poor Old John! I wonder if he got saved? It's too late to say, "I'm sorry now".
Well, I am not going to say that between stop lights I decided to "be saved". I don't think my mind would ever allow me to subscribe to any organized religion (or organized anything), no matter how appealing their philosophy or theology is. But underlying, the religious content, there was a nugget of wisdom that hung true for me. And that was: to stop making excuses, to be aware of your actions, to trust in your faith, to live with no regrets, and your destiny will present itself.
It was a simple sign. It did not shake me silly, with philosophical discovery or inner-bliss. But in that moment, I thought, "Everything will work itself out in due time, as long as I keep myself open to faith". And for the first time in my life I didn't judge those who chose to practice their faith differently, because on a certain level we all believe in the same thing; something bigger than ourselves, something out of our control, something to live for.
Some call it love. Some call it God. Some call it happiness. Some call it enlightenment.
I guess I call it truth.