Monday, December 6, 2010

Rise Up and Walk

"If you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the Cross and say:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

--Tito Colliander, from The Way of the Ascetics

I called a friend of mine yesterday, knowing he'd understand, and I told him I felt horrible for two reasons:

1. I slept through both matins and the Divine Liturgy
2. I ignored G***'s texts, then responded poorly when he demanded a reply.

And no, "G***" doesn't stand for "God." Or does it?

Let me explain:

Some months ago, I received a random phone call.

"Hey Jonni, this is G*** G****. You might recognize my last name; my brother was in Journey. I got your number from X. Back in the 80's my band Y opened for Rez & blah blah blah..."

The Journey thing meant nothing to me. What was their hit? "Double Vision?" "Don't Stop Believin(g)?" Do I care to find out? Here's a hint: I'm on a laptop, and I'm not googling it. However, I was intrigued by the Rez connection. It sounded like he might be one of the old Jesus Rockers I might have seen during my time at Jesus People USA. And I like old Jesus rockers.

So we played phone tag. We finally met for coffee. The shop by my house was packed, and I'd shown up with a greasy, down and out middle-aged man from New York City who ordered his cappuccino "heavy on the cream and sugar." The girl behind the counter gave him a cup of coffee and pointed him to the half and half.

We sat outside and he told me about himself. Not only did he have a brother in Journey, he also had a cousin in Foreigner who taught him how to write. He was looking forward to writing with me-- which apparently was the purpose of our meeting-- and he had a BC Rich Warlock if I was looking into experimenting with some new sounds.

Once, while he was working at Guitar Center in LA, a co-worker, who was a witch, was "stacking up the cards" against him. He warned her, "Listen, ma'am, I'm a Christian, and it's dangerous to be casting spells on me like that," but no. She didn't listen. A few days later he went into the breakroom and saw her with her head down, looking depressed. She'd always been so upbeat, so he asked her what was up. She said earlier that day a pillar of fire came out of the sky and blew up her car.

God blew up her car. For practicing Wicca and working at Guitar Center.

That's when I decided to cut it short. I stated nonchalantly that I "had stuff to do," and moved us back to my parking spot as quickly as I could. He said we should get together and write in about two weeks. I said, "sure, I've been busy, so maybe" or something, got in the damn car, and drove off as quickly as I could.

He texted for weeks, and I didn't respond. Didn't know what to do, and if I did know, I didn't want to deal with it.

About a month later, I received the following message:

"Hey Johnny would u plz give me the courtesy of closure;if ur givin me the silent treatment in hopes that ill just stop contacting u that doesnt work w/ we NY-ers. i would appreciate some type of reply."

I turned red with anger. The kind of red you turn when threatened. My stomach turned. I texted back:

"Take a hint. Welcome to the south."

Then the unexpected happened. He replied in an oddly lucid tone:

"Thank u 4 the reply
i got the hint but just needed confirmation
ive lost all respect for you young man.
if you were really my bro in christ you would've been man enuf to face me sooner on why u didn't want to follow thru on where we left off.
southerner or not communication is key 4 anything.
too bad u didnt know how 2 communicate.
welcome to the real world.

Then later:

"btw i was tryin to spread a little of agape love towards u inspite of yur hint of continually rude silence.

And five seconds after that:

"also i was tryn 2 giv u th benefit of th doubt that u might hav lost ur celphn or had a tragedy in ur life...

Today, reading over the texts, I didn't feel so guilty. But should I have felt bad? I might feel some pangs of regret for the following reasons:

1. He's probably super lonely, suffering from a serious mental illness, and I might have agitated the condition with my "continually rude silence."

2. I'm somewhat co-dependent, and I probably should have told him "no" right away, regardless of how irrational he seemed.

3. He's probably crazy and lonely, as seen above, and I can identify a little. I want to fix that for him, but I have no idea how. If I did know how, I still would have no power over his illness or personal choices.

It's hard to accept that you can't bring hope to a seemingly hopeless case. We can all seem hopeless, and perhaps, at times, all we can do is say we're sorry for our mistakes and pray for the one we've wronged. We can all seem hopeless, and that's why it's so hard to get out of bed sometimes.

Welcome to the real world.