The virus finally got to me tonight. I don’t mean it got to me physically, although one could argue that emotional stress can have an effect on the physical body. And let’s not forget I went out to the grocery store on Saturday and a clerk with a thin flap of material on her face (a pseudo-mask?) coughed my way. No, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about it got to me in the heart, the core of my being where it begs the most forgiveness. It leveled me right into the ground. I finally became right-sized and humble.
I sat on my couch and called my sponsor. Every night is an open invitation to leave 3 minutes on her voicemail of what I might be struggling with that day alongside what I did well. If I haven’t called in a few days it’s of the week, or however long it’s been since we last spoke. I can’t even begin to add up all those 3 minute increments between her and other sponsors I have been graciously given. Talk about generosity of the spirit and a huge dose of patience.
In the middle of leaving her a message, my voice started to break. The trailer of a song was coming from my computer and it reached all the way down inside me and struck a chord. It reached all the way down and began to pull up from the very depths of me this grief. Like an oncoming car I could see it happening so much so I cut my voicemail short. Not because I didn’t feel comfortable crying on her machine, I’ve done that plenty. No, instead I’ve learned there are times where I just need to cry alone, or rather, human alone. Because in those moments I lean into my Higher Power for help.
In the fall of 2015, after the brain injury and the car accident and the chiropractic adjustment, one afternoon I went to the chapel at the hospital. It was 3 p.m. and, save for an occasional maintenance worker walking through the halls, it was completely empty. I walked gently up the aisle and sat in the front row, put my head down, and started to pray.
“God loves impossible prayers,” a friend in program had said to me on an outreach call a few days earlier, so I decided to test it. I held my hands together in front of me and leaned forward with my elbows on my knees and I let go. Let go or rather opened up and let all the grief and fear and confusion pour out of me. Huge, flowing tears rolled down my face onto the floor.
Because I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I was scared beyond belief. Something was happening to my body that was beyond my control. The doctors, my former gods, had no answers. I felt like I was at the mercy of life. I had become rightsized. I was humbled at that moment before God. I have had snippets of this experience since then but rarely have they matched the intensity.
Tonight when I bowed my head I felt all the pain and suffering and fear and confusion, just like I felt four and a half years ago. I felt powerless and helpless. I prayed for my Higher Power to help us all. I can’t say I’ve ever done that before. Oh sure, I’ve prayed for collective things but not with the integrity and the honesty and the courage of tonight. Black, brown, white, or in-between it didn’t matter. Poor, rich, indebted or stolen it didn’t matter. Honest, thieving, old or young it didn’t matter. I prayed for us all. For God to help us. We are so scared, I said, and we need your help.
My brother’s girlfriend was on a call with us the other night, and she was the one who gave me this title. “We have become nonchalant with nature,” she said.
Now I don’t believe nature or God or the heavens and hells have anything to do with it. Like they aren’t mad and seeking revenge and proving us a lesson. But I think on a purely scientific ground she was right. We have taken it all for granted—at least I have—and now I’m receiving the opportunity to reevaluate.
Who do I want to be in the world? How do I want to live with it? Can I make different choices, barring I make it out alive, that will affect change for the future generations to come? Is it too late?
These are the questions I am hearing. Just like I heard them that time at the chapel. They have come back around for another look.
I wonder if this time, I will tell my God yes, this is my final answer. I promise to be careful moving forward. Can I even say that as a human when I am so prone to error?
I don’t know. But I am willing, and that is probably all that matters. A wake up call is just that. We wake up, get out of bed, and start again.
Please God, let us have that chance.
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
— Henry David Thoreau