I have a gripping memory. A moment that I don’t think that I will ever forget. When I was around 10 years old, a young man in our church was sick with leukemia. He’d already been down the road with several treatments and had been been in remission once, but the leukemia had returned. He’d started the treatments again, but his body was weak. His limbs were thin and he looked almost like a walking skeleton. Everything that could be done, was being done, it was as they say, in the hands of God. As we gathered on a Sunday morning for service, the pastor called for a prayer vigil and a day of fasting. For those not familiar, instead of your normal day of eating and napping, we’d take that time to pray for our friend and keep him in our thoughts. This was all voluntary. I wanted to help. I cared. But fasting. Food. Egads.
The drive home was somber. On the way home we stopped to check on some friends of my parents who hadn’t made it to church. And wouldn’t you know it, they had the biggest back yard grill and barbecue going. I could smell the hot dogs. That was the only thing I cared for at that moment. We’d eaten with them before and it had been heaven on earth. I think that I’d eaten 4 hot dogs and 1 burger if I remember right. Yeah, I was a growing girl. Like a girl with a butterfly net, I lost sight of the man with leukemia, the prayer vigil, the fasting, compassion and all the promises I’d had made in my heart and mind earlier that morning. I only saw hot dogs floating in the sky. Until I heard my dad say, ‘No we have to go. We’ve made other plans.’ No explanation. No talk about fasting. Nothing. But that’s my dad. Quiet. As few words as possible. Conagher like.
Dad was sold. All in. Now, I’m not saying that fasting is the answer, because, sadly it wasn’t. And I’m not saying that being all in, is the way, or the only way to go. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It’s a memory I have that has been on my mind. There are times that I feel the need to throw all of my cards on the table. Hold nothing back. Give it all I’ve got. I’m proud of that moment that Dad said, No we have other plans. If he’d have done any other thing, it would seem cheap. Not that the outcome would have been any different maybe, but the heart of matter is showing you care for another human. It was the belief of my family. And in their belief it was the greatest show of caring.
Sold or Sold Out?
My opposing memory is being with those who can’t seem to stay with you for a meal. Or feel a client’s phone call is more important than family time, even it’s scheduled. I’ve had this happen. When I asked why, he said, The client pays the bills. How do you argue that? My thoughts were, if there’s no one here, then you won’t have any bills to pay, but I didn’t say it. I just stewed in anger instead. At the time I thought it was better to be silent than to start a fight. Now I’m not so sure. Sold or sold out? Maybe he was sold also, just to the client. Maybe he was as another had told me, married to the job, more so than me. I was the mistress, the job was the spouse. I think a lot of people these days are sold out and don’t realize it. It’s not that they intentionally go to the crossroads and make a deal with the devil. They just give away a piece of their self a bit at a time. Even I did that when I kept quiet. We do it every day.
This week, I want to be careful, but not in a fearful way. In a way that is awake. I want to carefully step every day on firm ground, one step in front of the other, making sure that it’s the direction I want to go. I’m going to set down the butterfly net, so I can give full attention to the people around me, to those I truly care about.