Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Personal Jesus

He told me he was in my apartment and didn't recognize the surroundings.

And that's when he decided to walk out and make it to his own pad.

My neighbor exchanged this bit of information with me last fall - mentioning his mistake while stumbling and fumbling for his keys on his own doorstep.

He's in his early 50s, a spry man with shaggy hair and more than a few wrinkles, and there's no two ways about it - the man has a serious drinking problem. I only know this because we coincidentally arrived home at the same time late/early on several occasions - and he had a much more difficult time making it in the building, even though I was the one walking in four inch heels.

Bobbling and waiving - this guy slurred his words as he described being inside my apartment. You have a cream colored couch, and a desk on the side wall, right? I concealed my shock and dismay - grateful he made it in the apartment when I was still out and about one evening, and yet floored he could describe my living room to a T.

Even before the incident, I was persnickety about locking the door. Still, the man said he used his own key to get inside my space, so I can only think the leasing company has used the same lock on our respective doors.

Now I lock the deadbolt, and the chain goes up when I'm sleeping inside at night.

His drinking problem was so severe that sometimes I'd hear him puking his guts out on the other side of the wall. Occasionally, I wondered whether he was still alive. In all the times I saw him walking to his apartment, he never walked in a straight line and he never talked without sounding completely incoherent.

Tonight I am sitting on my front stoop, typing away and drinking a cold one, while my neighbor sits on his own porch with two Mormon boys, talking about Christ the Redeemer.

It doesn't matter where you are in America - they're instantly recognizable. The Mormon boys wear white button-down shirts and blue or black slacks, name tags pinned to the pocket. They travel as a pair when they read scripture and talk about faith.

Tonight they are helping a man who obviously is trying to close the door on a troubled past and the struggles with addiction.

I've relied on faith during my own times of crisis, too.

I don't think I was as lost as my neighbor friend, but I was certainly searching for myself. Years ago, I was seriously lacking self confidence, a sense of direction and an obligation to responsibility. My desire, no, my need for faith and spirituality came at a time when I was completely lost and left to find a way out on my own.

I know my faith and the love of others helped me find the way.

Today, I am living a dramatically different life. I have a distinct sense of purpose. My self esteem is overflowing. My obligation to responsibility - it's come a long way but could still use some improvement from time to time.

And though I am completely committed to my life's direction these days, I still feel an occasional wavering in my faith.

Sometimes it's easy to feel like God forgets you. When you lose a loved one far too early... when you struggle with the disappointment that your own dreams have not come true... I guess it's natural to question the motivation for God's doing.

And that's when I can only trust there's a greater plan at work.

I saw the Mormon boys approach the door tonight and I knew they were going to my neighbor's home. I didn't make eye contact because I was trying to avoid a visit to my doorstep, too.

The truth is, I still call myself a Catholic. I don't practice the faith nearly as frequently as I used to, but I still believe in the fundamentals, and I know I will choose to go to a mass when I decide I want to start going to church regularly.

I know God still believes in me, even when I sometimes forget to believe in Him.


Thaddeus said...

Invite those Mormons over for a lemonade and a spiritual discussion. Even if you don't see eye-to-eye, it helps to talk about faith. They will be respectful and polite, and they might even have some significant words to offer.

What Do Mormons Believe?

Kate The Great said...

I agree, Thaddeus. I think it's wonderful when people can gather and talk about Christ's works and wonders. I steer clear of debating faith because that's something that is never a black-and-white argument. We are all entitled to our beliefs - a wonderful right to celebrate on this Independence Day!

I have had several Mormon friends over the years (along with Jews, Baptists, Protestants and Atheists) and am always interested in hearing a different perspective. I suppose I am a bit private where my own faith is concerned, but am willing to open up and share my beliefs if someone has an interest...

Thanks for stopping by!