Thorny Bushes

Two Lambs

Some years back I took great delight in describing my life this way: life gets perilous for me, I cry wolf, some come to help, some don’t, some see that I’m about to fall off yet another cliff and arrange a pile of thorn bushes and thistles at about where they thought I’d land. The point was to make the landing hurt worse so that I’d think twice about making that leap again.

What my thorn bush friends didn’t think about was that the pile would break my fall. Yes, the thorns hurt but not as bad as a landing without them. I’ve not felt the worry about my perils the same way for five years or so. I couldn’t create Ray(rob(ert))a as a character because the fears were too intimate, too immediate. My last deep collapse was in 2002 when I walked away from my marriage after hitting my then wife/now ex-wife in the shoulder and being convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery. I thought then I’d bounce back from the fallout of that in a few months, a year at most. That was 14 years ago as I type this.

I started this journey with a room in a 3 bedroom townhouse and the car my (then)wife and I bought new. Today, I rent a house and have an old cop car. There is a rhythm to my life. Things get bad, I get scared, then right at the peak of “oh shit this is going to hurt“, something comes together and I live to fight another day.

Sometimes I leap, sometimes I fall, sometimes I land in the thorn bushes, sometimes I land elsewhere. Sometimes I get injured, though less lately. Always there is faith and fear, with faith leading as I leap lately. Today, as I was writing this, the temp agency I’ve worked for twice before, calls with a possible job. The cab company I applied to set up an interview for tomorrow morning. That’s the hope. The fear is: Unemployment ends the first week of April. I will not have an income after that. The little that I am getting pays the rent and some of my bills. Things like my cell phone and my Internet access are behind. It’s getting scary again.

Ray(rob(ert))a is an avatar for my fears. I’ve given s/him a Twitter and a Facebook account. In branding him I’ve found old, rather ugly voices out of my past. I’m still a bit nervous about how dark I can make him/her. Saturday is the start of a workshop to finish a draft of a novel in six months. Ray(rob(ert))a may be featured in any resulting novel. You heard it here first.

I almost don’t want to finish this post. These hours, as things seem to tip toward success, ruin my street cred as a downtrodden member of the proletariat. I leap and land, but not always as I fear or as those who wish I wouldn’t leap desire. It ends up in godly and surprising ways. I guess I have this, that you have to put in the work. It’s not simply grace nor is it simply works. Grace is what gives us a path toward freedom from those chains out of our past that hinder us. Yes, there is the moment in time when a choice is made. That isn’t the end, though. That’s the path less traveled by. That’s the biblical path chosen.

The pattern has remained consistent. The path’s direction still clear. A week ago, as I started this post, it was a bleak moment. It was also a familiar moment. I wasn’t hearing from potential employers. Unemployment Insurance will stop paying me next month. My bills have been piling up. RayBob’s answer was to binge drink and drunk-drive his way to Toano. He and Itzel are busy this time of year with the farm. He’s been gone from the house for a week or so. Today, as I type this, things are better. Brussels happened, yeah. Egg rings, a pastry scraper, a box grater and shelf paper also happened. I saw a spider and found 3 checks from DCSE. I start training for a cab driving job this afternoon. I have a job interview tomorrow at 10am. It’s not the total answer but it is things that make me fee less afraid.

My thorny bush friends don’t count on God. They count on pain. They figure if it hurts bad enough I’ll change. They know me, know how stubborn I am. Yet they persist in hoping I’ll leap off the cliff into their thorny bushes. Who, then, is the fool? God keeps showing up and disrupting the plan. He delivers manna and doves. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul [Psalm 23, paraphrased].

I’ll make this prediction based on over a decade of a similar pattern. By mid-April I’ll still have my house. Progress will be made paying down the overdue bills. My car will get worked on. I won’t be out of danger. I never am. But the feared disaster will not happen. I’ll be ok.