Yesterday was Epiphany – the date that we celebrate the Revelation of Jesus to the Wise Men, who were more like astrologers than anything else. And I had an epiphany Sunday when I was driving back from taking my daughter to her mother’s house, a drive a little over an hour. See, it’s like this –
I applied for a job as a peer support specialist at a local agency, which means I’ll be working with addicts and alcoholics, some of whom will also have mental health issues and/or trauma – if I get the job. The interview was this past Friday. I put on some nicer clothes – not church nice, but better than usual – and reminded myself that Christ told His disciples not to worry about what they would say because the Holy Spirit would speak through them. Got to the place on time, sat in the waiting room in the exact same seat where I used to wait for my therapist to come out to collect me, back when I was strung out, stoned and trying to figure out the least painful way of committing suicide. I gotta say, I think I nailed the interview. If I don’t get the job it ain’t because I didn’t do my part.
So I was driving back over the mountain, thinking about how I would do that job, how I’d talk to clients about my experiences and try to help them find their own way to recovery, and I got to thinking about what kinda state I was in when I got sober and then – ding – I understood how the story of Job fit into my life. Like, I was aware of the conversation between God and Satan, when God says “Okay, do anything you want to him, just don’t kill him.” Because I was in a state not unlike Job when I got sober. I wasn’t covered in sores head to toe, but Job wasn’t psychotic. Otherwise it’s about the same. I’d lost everything, was estranged from everyone, was totally devastated and had no hope whatsoever. I would’ve been dead sooner than later – I knew that then and know that now. God kept me alive through a lotta shit that coulda woulda shoulda killed me, and then He gave me the insight that there was an end of that on the horizon. Time to get right.
And it was right around 6 Jan. when I had an epiphany that led me in another direction. I’ve written here about Christmas Eve, 1997, when I had an experience of God that blew my frickin’ brain, but I was too far out to get straight right away. I needed a lotta help. In the first week of January, 1998, I was in the local public library, where homeless people can go to use the bathroom and sit inside for a while, and I was wondering what I was gonna do that day. Kill myself? Get drunk? How would I find the funds to get drunk? And a thought came into my head – I mean it came into my head, not from my head – that I could go seek help. I didn’t have to get straight on my own. There are people and agencies and organizations that exist to help drunks get sober and all I had to do was get up and go to one. So I did. It was still seven or eight weeks ’til I actually got detoxed and was able to stay drug- and alcohol-free, but I started the process that day at the library which was within a day or so of 6 Jan. I really like it when dates and numbers match up.
Epiphany. I’ve started reading The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Now, there’s a Lutheran. I gotta admit, I envy Bonhoeffer. I think it’d be easier in some ways to be imprisoned at Buchenwald and hanged at Flossenburg than to live in modern America, which I experience as a daily battering. Every day, another emotional beating by the twenty-first century Babylon. (The orange Fuhrer did some dumb shit last week that will involve US in another decade or so of idiotic mayhem in the middle East.)(Also, I hear that a Tarantino movie about the Manson murders won an award for “musical comedy” and that a movie about a comic book clown is being hailed as “drama”, so the priorities are all fuct up.) It’d be less pain and suffering to just pray in a cell for a few months and then go to the gallows.
But it’s God’s will, not Mine. If He wants me to keep trudging, I will. Bonhoeffer returned to Germany from the USA in ’39, knowing he would be a target of the SS, because he couldn’t participate in the rebuilding if he didn’t share in the suffering. That means something to me. I’m hoping to get a job which will allow me to sit down with people who have suffered and try to convince them to do things to change their miserable lives. I’m somewhat qualified by my own history, but the way of the Cross is the way of suffering. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ does not mean skipping through the daisies eating ice cream with kittens. It means sharing in the suffering of the world.
About kittens. The black kitten that I’ve mentioned here was hit by a car and killed in front of my house a few weeks ago. I buried her on the backyard. My daughter and I grieved and cried. Then we went out and got another kitten – an orange and white domestic short hair, from a rescue agency. The grrrl named him Simba. He’s really a puppy cat – licks hands and faces, carries his toys around in his mouth, loves to play Fetch. Delightful little beast. And a male kitten, too. I’ll be honest – I’m prejudiced in favor of female animals. I would’ve held out for a girl kitten, but my daughter, who does not share my biases, was determined to have that kitten right there, the orange one. So I’m learning to love a little boy cat. It’s a minor thing, perhaps, but these minor things add up. I am an opinionated ass and it is necessary for God to break that down, so that I can serve any and all.
Epiphanies all over the place.