Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Angel of Presence...

Things have been relatively quiet in my world lately. I've spent the past couple of weeks in other people's homes, trying to give the Newlyweds a little space. Last week I stayed with Josh while Lindsay and the baby were away. After a Thursday night of drinking with my friends, since I had to work on Friday, I woke up yesterday morning and gathered my stuff to head back to the house for the weekend, and perhaps a few more days until the next place opens up.

After a quick nap in my bed for the first time in a couple of weeks, I headed to work for my closing shift. The book business is strong and steady here in Waco, with all the rain causing people to scurry to find indoor activities to pass the summer away. But the days have gone by smoothly without many complications.

For my dinner break I grabbed a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love and headed to Uncle Dan's BBQ on Lake Air, which turned out to be about the most spiritual event in my life in quite a while. As I strolled leisurely through the long hallway from the back door to the dining room of the restaurant, passing the black and white photos of Baylor sport's stars of the past, and an American flag flown over the U.S. embassy in Switzerland, I heard the sweet sounds of an old upright piano. It's halting echoes belting out what seemed to be a fusion of hymns and Broadway show tunes brought me back to my formative years in a tiny church on the corner of 3rd and Hwy. 31 in a town east of here.

As I walked around the corner to discover a little old lady, much like the ones from that old church, swaying at the bench with her eyes tightly affixed to the sheet music in front of her. I smiled my genuinely appreciative, yet slightly-less-than-enthusiastic smile at her as I walked by. She glanced over and her quiet smile let me know that we were on the same page...Church was in session and she was the minister in charge of a peace that only comes once in a while.

I went through the line and got my food, a large baked potato smothered with everything so-wrong-it's-right, (butter, sour cream, cheese, and a mound of chopped beef,) and a large cup of sweet tea. I took my pew at a table close to the piano and cracked open the book that had been recommended by several people for a while now. I realized very quickly that the writer was an Ann Lamott type of spiritual guide, making me feel good with liberal fuzzies and universal language that is incongruent of my ordinary semi-evangelical, post-everything theology, but I was going to enjoy the hell out of it.

After eating I put the book down quickly and leaned my head back, arms behind my neck, and took in a surprisingly emotional rendition of Dream a Little Dream. I thought about how being alone isn't all that bad when you have a cast of characters in your life whose entrances may take you by surprise, may be scripted, but is almost always assured. Of course, there are no slam-dunk assurances of anything in life, but we hope, and occasionally our hope stirs up a quietly intense passion for those we love. And as Rich suggested, "if the passion can lead to prayer, maybe prayer can give us faith...and if faith is all we got then maybe faith is all we need."

I was swept away in the music and was clueless how many songs had passed until I came out of my daydreaming. But when I came to, the Lord had led us to How Great Thou Art. It was then that I realized this was one of those moments where the next world was very close to this one. If you don't believe me, get this... I decided to get dessert, but I was tossed by the greatest decision known to man-- A slice of Pecan Pie or a bowl of Peach Cobbler. I asked the older lady behind the serving line, the one wearing the hair net and whose shift probably began back in the 1940's, to help me out. She told me I didn't have to choose, because they had a new dessert, and what came out of her mouth after this was perfectly in sync with the crescendo of that great hymn being played behind us-- Pecan Cobbler.

The veil opened and I came to the realization again that a little loneliness never hurt anyone. All you need is a couple of little old ladies, one flying you away with the power of an upright piano, the other holding you close to the ground with BBQ and an invention as grand as Pecan Cobbler, to carry you on to the next scene, where those you love, and who love you, will return to the plot line of this great story we call life.

1 comment:

Carn-Dog said...

a true llttf moment