I sat in church, not paying attention to mass, but instead thinking of all the things that were weighing heavy on my mind. This whole move to London was just dragging me down. My life was going nowhere, my marriage falling apart, my career seemingly impossible. London had brought with it a whole series of challenges that I had not even imagined would happen – after all, the worst was supposed to be behind us, right? This was the future we were living in. Then why was it so difficult and not as splendid as when we first dreamed it? I needed a miracle, and I needed one fast.
Last week, the buses were delayed and there was no way I could reach to my pilates class on time…but I had just argued with the Luv Luv so I really did not want to go back home into that atmosphere right away…so there I was in my workout clothing, too big, old and tattered to the point where they screamed “sweat in me!!” walking. Just walking whereever my legs would take me. I walked up the high street and decided to take a round about way back home, a way that would take me past my church. I was not going to go in. I was so tired and upset…I just wanted fresh air and then to go home to shower, change and lock myself in my bedroom. I argued the entire way up the high street whether or not to go sit in the church, or just walk past it, if it would be open at 7 pm on a Thursday or not…..but I convinced myself that I was so tired that I turned down a street that would shorten my walk by half and would make me not walk past the church at all. I walked, still arguing with myself in my head and took no more than ten steps…when I literally said to myself … F*ck it. Just go see. If it’s unlocked, just go in for a few minutes.
I turned around thinking that anyone who was watching me must think I am half-crazy, for one, when I was speaking to myself I was sorta tipping my head as if considering the two options, and secondly, I must have turned around on the same spot four times before walking back towards the church. I laughed at my indecision and decided that life’s just like that. I walked past the church and the doors were wide open. Surprised, I walked in thinking I’d just sit in the quiet calm for a few minutes, but when I entered the main area of the church itself, I noticed the Blessed Sacrament was on display. It took my breath away – I was wowed by the beauty of the monstrance, but somehow, more astonished, amazed and touched by the host in the monstrance itself. Here I was ready to give up and something pulled me to the church, and there was Jesus, just sitting there on the altar going “I’m so glad you’re here”. I ended up staying there for almost two hours, and the entire time I was chatting in my head to Jesus as a child does to a favourite Aunt that they have not seen in forever. A mile a minute, just trying to fit everything I could into that little time I had with him, letting out all my worries, begging for help, pleading for some sort of intervention….and then I realized – aren’t you supposed to be quiet during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? So I apologised and sat back and just enjoyed being there.
Today, I was back in church for weekly mass this time. I like the priest who did the homily – he’s my favourite one at this church – his message is always poignant and he always relates it to something happening in the world in such a way that it’s surprising but leaves you with some meat to chew on for the rest of the week. I still could not focus on him, though. I was busy thinking about everything I felt this week – how I was so ready to give up, how I was feeling alone, unloved and talentless, how I felt like a failure and how I felt hopeless. Just keep trucking I thought – and, after numerous attempts to concentrate on the mass, I apologised to God and I told him how much I would love to leave these troubles in his hands and just forget about them, but aren’t I supposed to take action in order for God to help? After all, there’s that joke where a man asked to win the lottery for years and years and years and never did….and then when he died he met God and asked him – Lord, why didn’t you help me? Did you not hear my prayers?! And God answered “Of course I did! But you have to buy a ticket to win the lottery!!!”. What ticket was I supposed to buy? I returned home a bit dejected and so depressed that I decided to take a nap – I had to meet with people in 2 hours, but I would probably “accidentally” sleep in…..I didn’t. I got out of bed and got out of my apartment – something just made me go out….again, that mysterious force that had called me into the church made me put some powder on my face, put on my jeans and run out of the house.
Now I was standing there staring at this man I just met. The man who was visibly struggling with his emotions. He looked like he was about to break down and cry, he was practically shaking with emotion…..and me, well I was stunned at how this world works, but not as emotional as he was. He was a long lost cousin – one who I never even knew existed….perhaps it was shocking to him, but not so much to me….after all, Trinidadians are everywhere…why was he reacting so emotionally? And it was strange, that just my presence made anyone so emotional, after all, I’m just little insignificant me – a nobody failing at life, yet here he was, a grown man, looking as if he were forcing himself not to run into a private corner to weep hot tears that had been building up in him for so long that he no longer knew they were in there.
As the day went by I learned more and more of his story and it made sense to me. A hard upbringing being criticised and ridiculed for being different in a highly traditional society. A loss of sense of self, a lack of self belief and yet, a strong and prevailing willingness to live and to live well in a way that made him happy. He felt alienated from his family at a young age and spent most of his teenaged years locked in his bedroom for fear of embarrassing anyone, quietly re-crafting his tailored clothing because the tailor said “Men don’t dress that way” when he had made his requests. Instead of throwing a fuss, he just chose to figure out how to make it work himself. He grew up believing his father was embarrassed of him and did not like him, but only found out, just before his father’s death, that his father was actually proud of his achievements and had trusted that he could take care of himself so paid more attention to his “less capable” siblings.
And here I was, in the middle of his normality, standing here….a key to the lost half of his family….a key he didn’t even know existed….I was this person who had walked into his world, like so many others, but my very existence had blown him away – not because of me, but because of the very blood that we share that runs through our veins. Me, I was blown away by the very fact that I had such an impact on him. How could I? I’m so normal. I’m less than normal. I’m just me – and I wasn’t even dressed up to look half-way decent to say that I was trying to make any type of impression. I had brought no gifts with me, had nothing to offer him, but somehow my mere presence was more poignant to him than if I had come and dumped a truckful of gold in his lap and told him to go to town with it. It made me feel special. Talking with him made me feel like I belonged – although this quirky, flambouyant gentleman, this Ray of sunshine, had no clue how he made me feel, his huge and generous heart started to thaw my temporarily frozen and dying one.
He gave me hope – hope that in this cruel city called London, one can still survive and survive with avengeance. He gave me inspiration, because he had faced so much in his life, yet here he was living his dream. He gave me the will to start fighting again, because he had never given up and if he never gave up and if he can live his dream, then perhaps I could too, even though I’m not quite sure what that dream is quite yet. This Ray of hope gave me a spark of excitement that I have not experienced in a long, long time – he made me interested in what my future could bring while he was speaking about his plans for the future, his excitement about what his pet projects were becoming and his passion for his life….and he made me want to be as passionate as he was about what I was doing. He may even have put a little bit more backing into my recent ongoing argument in my head that perhaps…perhaps what I do on a daily basis is not what I’m supposed to be doing….and he gave me hope that perhaps, through him or with him supporting me, I may find what I actually should be doing……
Small miracles do happen – God takes care of His own – you just have to be patient, gracious and grateful while you wait for them.