Monday, August 01, 2005

how do we pray?

Tonight I came home after working for just about 10 hours and heated up the leftovers from lunch's stir-fry. I boiled some water for tea in my new "ginger pot" looking teapot and thought about the cook trying to convince me to come to his church today in the cafeteria. I tried to just say, "sure, sure," and I kinda felt bad for not taking him seriously, but when it's past 2 pm and you're only just getting around for lunch you don't have time or energy to get into a conversation that goes something like, "I'm really happy you found something that is positive in your life. For me, that isn't church."

So I smiled and told him to have a real nice day as I took the styrofoam container of brown rice, veggies and tofu.

Long after dinner, I lit some candles and read an interview with Shirley Hazzard (If you haven't read The Transit of Venus or The Great Fire yet, you are truly denying yourself some serious literary dark chocolate treats) from The Paris Review. It made me hungry to just sit around all day and read. I come home from days like this and feel flustered and incapable of doing more than flitting around from magazine to email to magazine. My ears are giving me problems, too, and that could also contribute to my restlessness.

But I got an email from a friend I met last fall on a train cutting through Long Island. I was on my way to a friend's wedding shower and he was off visiting a friend for an early thanksgiving meal. He overheard D and I talking about someone we'd known in college who happened to have volunteered with him in Indonesia. Small world. Not surprising given our crazy lives.

But he had just quit a job that I had applied for... and he had sent me the rejection letter. I figured it out from the place he worked, his age... and his name. He was floored. Coincidence isn't too shocking to me, but I like it when it happens.

We ended up meeting for coffee not too long afterwards and hung out talking for hours talking about all kinds of things you spill out early on in a strong, thick friendship. I hoped I would spend more time with him, but he ended up moving back to Tennessee to take care of his ailing father, suffering from cancer. I wrote him a letter months ago. A hasty one that was fueled with caffeine and the desire to recapture those eight hours on Sullivan Street.

I never heard back from him and assumed it had to be because I was too open, too candid and excited.

I heard from him tonight in the form of a group email. He's in Houston with his dad for last ditch efforts to save his life. His dad has a very grave operation tomorrow morning and everything is in the balance. He was writing to ask for everyone to think of his dad or pray if you believed.

I wrote him back and said he would be in my thoughts and in my heart. My prayers, too, even though I don't pray the way I used to when I was much, much younger. Nightly prayers were the ritual that got me to sleep. I used to have trouble sleeping, but now the city does the trick for me. Wearing me down with little quiet moments of chaos everyday.

He wrote back almost immediately and said he'd adored my letter. He wanted to find time in the next week to write me about everything and asked for my address again because they'd come out to Texas rather quickly.

We can't feel bad about not sharing the same faith, but we have to hope we all believe in enthusiasm and joy, in the desire to live and the urge to protect our loved ones no matter the odds.


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