First there were several days worth of Dear Abby e-mails stacked up. I read casually through the preventative to the more serious questions she was asked: one woman surprised at everyone glorifying in their pregnancies and not hiding their bundles-to-be under smocks, another man wondering if he can trust his partner after he caught him sending inappropriate pictures to another, a woman who had moved in too quickly and found her boyfriend to be a bit abusive (what do I do now? uh, leave?), a man who had lost his wallet - cautioning others to make copies of everything in their wallet so they know what they've lost, another man bemoaning the fact that apparently after twelve years he is finally discovering that his wife never wanted to have children.
Second there was an e-mail from a friend from my church back home - an inspirational chain mail message of sorts. Two names on it, send it to the top one who is not the friend who sent it to you, and send them an inspirational message - everyone can use another puppy dog in their e-mail - and then re-send the message to twenty of your closest enemies (because do you really want to harass your friends with chain e-mails) and delete the person in line 1, and move yours to line 2, etc., etc. Not particularly fond of chain mails, and certainly don't want to invite a potential of 400 emails to flood my inbox full of puppy dogs, and angels wings, etc. But I did think about the one inspirational quote I keep in my wallet, and whether to at a minimum at least send that along to person #1.
Third there were the blog entries from a high school acquaintance - kinda-friend - of mine whose husband has just had a heart attack in the new year and followed immediately by bypass surgery. She has two young kids at home, and finds herself swirling with her new world order. A few weeks back after reading a prior blog post, I had sent her an inspirational message - you are not alone - to her; but she seems to be lost in this idea of a world that is now gone, and nothing but bleakness in front of her.
Leaving my ex-partner of ten years was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. Not only because it meant leaving her (although by then, frankly, I was ready for some peace from her, not that she was ready to give it to me at the time), but because given the circumstances (her escalating violence), I felt that I had to leave the area altogether. Move not only from the physical house that I had bought and had been my home for the past ten years, but also leave the area and the state altogether, cutting off ties with friends, and her family that had been mine. I ended up moving back across the country to be with my family (a roller coaster of its own). Packing - or attempting to pack - one night in the middle of it all had proven to be too much for me, so I began wandering the streets of my city - possibly wailing, maybe out loud, maybe just internally, but tears were certainly streaming down my face. I found myself at my church, a couple miles from where I had started.
No-one was there. It was 10 PM. I had a key - I could have gone in. But the solace I was looking for wasn't directly there. Instead, I called a church member who I knew only lived a block away - not someone I had necessarily been close to, but I had been getting to know - and I asked if I could drop by. That I needed to see SOMEONE. He graciously agreed I could come over.
He and his wife - both long retired - had been retired for the night. He opens his door to this adult woman whose face is covered with tears, and who cannot express in words anything, let alone what she needed or what she wanted. Or why she was there. She just had landed there, on his door step, in the middle of the night.
He brought me into his kitchen, and he offered me a beverage, and looked at me trying to figure out what I needed, what I wanted. What he could do. And I just sat there and cried, and cried. At one moment, he excused himself, and he came back with a small slip of paper with words printed on it. It looked a little like a fortune cookie fortune.
And he just said to me quietly, "This is something that I've found helpful, so I carry it with me, and have a few copies of it." And he handed me the paper and on it was a verse from Isaiah.
"Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing that I am going to do. It is happening already - you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there." Isaiah 43After he handed it to me, I started to calm down a little. Still crying, but less intensely. Wiping my face was no longer as futile an exercise as it had been moments before. I was able to gather myself enough to thank him, and to be ready to head back out, and head back to the place where I had been staying. I put the slip of paper into my wallet.
There were many moments of despondence through the process of leaving and moving forward with my life. That one was one of the worst lows, if not the worst low. But I came out of it with some calm. And when I hit those other moments - as trite as I admit it sounds - I would pull out that piece of paper and try to have faith.
I no longer have the original piece of paper, but I reprinted the quote onto a small piece of card stock, and on the back side I have a few lines from 1 Corinthians 13 - the famous verse read at most weddings and carry that with me in my wallet. For a long time since in Canada, my wallet has been fairly empty. I had my driver's license, my quotes, a small wallet-sized love poem from my wife, an emergency $20 (originally U.S. dollars, now in Canadian dollars). Then we added a library card. Now I am adding more cards, and my wallet IS getting fuller, again.
And so when I read the Dear Abby letter, I thought about what was in my wallet - what I would need to copy. And then I read the chain email, and thought about sending my quote. And then I read the blog entries, and thought of a more appropriate person to send it to. Life has a funny way of connecting things together. Or maybe it's just me...