Sunday, July 01, 2007

Only You Can Stop This From Happening



Once upon a time I sat crying in a church doorway on a crowded city street. A group of Amish men passed by, a parade of Amish, and they snuck furtive glances at my semi-hysterical, sobbing self. Some were old, some in the prime of their lives, some young boys, and I comforted myself with the stories they might tell each other about why I had obviously broken down in a public place without the good sense to find a bathroom in which to cry. I thought of myself as a cautionary tale -- See what happens in a secular lifestyle! The big city will leave you cold and strung out like garbage on the side of the street! To my credit, I managed with heroic effort to pull myself together before I made more of a jerk out of myself in front of a myriad of people on bikes, trying to win some race. Not one of my finer stoic moments, that's for sure. I thought of all the self-help slogans I'd heard lately, but one in particular mocked me -- And you are somebody! Yes, I thought, somebody who is a real dumbass.

One of my favorite pulp novels details the adventures of a priest who does a street ministry for beautiful women junkies, having had his heartstrings tugged by one who got out of prison and begged for his help, only to overdose but had the presence of mind to leave a note safety-pinned to her bra that said, Only you, Father John, can stop this from happening to others. What's not to love -- heroin, New York City, Bellevue, a burned out priest on the edge of losing his faith, damsels in distress? What can I say? This formula works for me. While I read it, I thought about that day on the street. I wasn't trying to win a race, wasn't living all that plain and simple as the Amish pride themselves. I was living complicated and strung out, like so many people on the edges of something, trying like anything to regain my composure and failing, my faith, slipping in and out of the distance like a radio station I couldn't quite pick up for the time being even though I knew it was there and always would be, even if I couldn't hear it at that moment.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Progress means eliminating one thing and accepting another." B. R. Sridhar

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Conversations With Other Women

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Sunday!

8 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Life in the fast lane sure wears one out. I'm hoping to drive on dirt roads the rest of my life.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle lovely post and view as always. I imagine that you inspire many a man and woman to want to return books to you in person at every opportunity. Champagne toasts and caviar dreams, Bravo!

JR's Thumbprints said...

If I were to change that radio station, all I'd hear is "Boys Don't Cry" by the Cure; that is, unless I'm listening to country music which makes it alright to cry in one's beer.

the walking man said...

The big city only eats those that have no ability to adapt, if you didn't have that ability then you'd be gone.

This moment of time, dumbass, was just part of the learning. Making progress by leaving something(one) you loved behind and accepting another.

I have a million stories to tell of growing into what I am now but the difference between you and I is that you remember yours, I don't remember hardly any of mine. Which is part of the reason I always remember you when speaking with God , especially to help you remember how you came to the place you are at now and to make the next one in your journey a bit easier.

always be at Peace

mark

eric313 said...

Of course you know my favorite part of this is the pulp novel priest. What isn't there to love when you can at least read one example of someone saving themself through saving others. I loved that whole part.

And of course your line about leaving you cold and strung out onad hollow on the side of the street. Death is one thing. Abandonment and uncertainty are also frightful aspects of the city, and I think you acheived them very well. It touched my heart, as well.

This is a terrible place to be left alone. I love the heroic efforts throughout, whether it was getting up off the pavement, or realizing that faith lies waiting for us to return to it.

There in lies much wisdom.
Thank you for this post

JLCGULL said...

I like Amish chicken when I can get it because it's low in preservatives.

Rodney Dangerfield said...

I probably wouldn't make it to the book return, if you know what I mean.

Princess Pointful said...

I, too, wonder what stories people create about me when they catch me in a moment of vulnerability in public.

It seems almost worst to have them not notice your tears than to have them stare.