Jesus was dead. Anyone who said otherwise was either crazy or lying. Thomas had no desire to waste time entertaining the tales of hysterical women or deluded men. Jesus was dead and all the wishful thinking in the world wasn’t changing that. Ridiculous chatter about visions in gardens and visits from the master only made him miss his friend and teacher all the more.
So he’d skipped last week’s gathering. If Jesus’ other followers wanted to pick at grief’s open wound, that was their business. He’d just as soon try to put the whole thing behind him. Better to meditate on the Rabbi’s teaching than try to conjure the man’s ghost.
I preached once again this past Sunday. The text was Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow. That parable got me thinking, “What is prayer?” You can read the verses I allude to here.
What is prayer?
Is it a wish list? A sort of Amazon.com for God? Is it a meditation exercise? Good for lowering stress and rejuvenating the mental state? Is prayer poetry — pretty words and pleasing rhythm?
Does prayer, to put it another way, mean anything?
I recently gave my first sermon in the United Methodist Church. This is the full text of my message.
It was about ten minutes to midnight, and I was more alone than I’d ever been in my life. Oh, to be sure, I was surrounded by people — hundreds of people, in fact. But I was utterly alone, and so scared I was crying like a child.
You see, I was lost. More lost than I’d ever thought possible. I was lost and I had no idea how to change my situation. I was standing in the middle of Milan station, in the heart of downtown Milan, Italy. And I’d missed the last train home.
It seems silly to say out loud, but I have a fear of the present.
Everything in my life is centered on what’s going to happen. I’m putting everything off. What am I waiting on? I don’t know. Every idea I have, every hope and dream is simply something else that’s waiting.
There’s no guarantee any of the things I’m planning will ever come to pass. And, for the most part, I have no control over whether or not they do.
What I can control is me. Myself. My reaction to this very moment. And what am I doing? Predominantly nothing.
Because nothing is happening yet. So I’m absolved from acting. But this absolution doesn’t pardon me.
I should suffer no self-delusion, nor abide any excuse for the utter waste of time my life is becoming. Free-will, squandered in the meaningless pursuit of entertainment, is a far worse fate than predestination. To squander opportunity is to murder your dreams.
Even in the moments between the moments that change our lives, there’s a germ of opportunity waiting to be exploited; time remains at its post, waiting to see if I’ll use every second I’m granted to inch that much closer to a destiny, a calling, a dream.
So what am I doing right now? Am I waiting for life to happen, or am I actively becoming the person I was meant to be?
I guess sometimes all you need is a little time and some perspective.
Sure, there were some rough times, like when Jack “Jacob” Shephard totally sucker punched me just as I was home free. OH MY GOD. What a tool.
It feels really good to be back to my old self again.
Ya know, it just seems silly now. What a funk I put myself in over James, when all I really needed to do was just stand up and be myself. If there’s one thing I learned from Oprah, it’s that you just can’t let a man define who you are as a person.
And who I am as a person is all four Horseman of the Apocalypse bundled up into one big, bald bag of hurt. Who only ever wanted to be loved.
Can you believe it? I mean, can you BELIEVE it?
After everything I’ve done. All the blood, sweat and smoke I poured into this relationship, James just up and left me. And he took my boat! I’m so mad right now I could burst into flame. I gave that man the best thirteen weeks of my life — minus that time I tried to get back together with Richard, the week or so I spent ogling St. Sayid and that couple minutes of blissful alone time with Dezzy the Highlander.
And you know what, Diary? THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.
Everybody has a soul mate except me.
I really thought James was the one. Now he’s so mean to me. Snapping at me, making fun of my wood. I think it’s because of Kate. He’s not been the same since she started hanging around.
Um, hello, James, she’s called an EX for a reason?
Sayid is such a badass. He’s just all like boom, kick, mother-flipping SNAP. God I love him — it, I love IT.
It’s just so nice to have someone I can depend on. And now that he’s bringing me Desmond King of Scots, I just know I have the upper hand on The Bald Avenger over at Hydra Island. There’s no substitute for having good friends. Who do what you say. Without question.
You know what? I’m just about over this.
I give and I give and I smoke a little and I give some more. And what do I get? Snide remarks. Sideways looks. Brooding. It’s like I’m trapped on this island with the cast of The Hills.