Yesterday, something astonishing happened to me. In a good way. At a time when I had lost all sense of direction, and was feeling hopeless. I want to share this because I had told my friend a couple days ago that while I truly, honestly believed Spirit really intervened in the lives of people in a good way, I was feeling that that was true for everyone but me. Do you ever feel like that?
I’ve been praying for help these past few weeks with two things. First, I’ve been sick for weeks, weak sick, with no seeming end in sight. And because I was feeling so sick, I’ve been scared. I get scared when I get sick because I reach a place in my head where I just stop believing I’ll ever get better.
Second, our little yellow house contract began going south. It seemed for a couple of months that this little home was really moving along toward a calm and secure escrow closing—and then we had the home inspection. Yikes! Everything seemed to be wrong. We turned to contractors to help us make sense of all the bad news, and were told that it really was not THAT bad. After, all, it was an older home and we could expect problems with an older home. Then, we were told to suspect that it was, indeed, that bad. The last two weeks have been a quagmire of phone calls, inspections that could not get scheduled, emails, and hair pulling.
The bank, meanwhile, was hurrying us to counter our previous offer with a solid commitment based on the problems we knew about in the house. Remember, if you will, that I have been sick as the mythical dog and my mind is as clear as pea soup. I have been terrified of making a wrong choice either way: What if we passed on this sweet little house? What if we didn’t? What if the problems really were not that bad, and we let the deal go because we could not make a choice like this fast and uneducated? What if we said, yes, let’s buy it—and we lost everything we had in home repairs and had to eat Bisquick and canned spaghetti everyday for the rest of our lives?
My fog brain and house woes collided together and got me ruminating about making choices, and does the universe give a damn anyhow, and boy, have I made some real doozies of bad choices in my life, and where the hell was God anyhow? I turn to the heavens regularly and fervently and earnestly and sincerely and sometimes desperately and say “Please, just let me know what you want me to do.” And mostly, I hear nothing back. Send me a sign, I ask, and then I’m afraid that I just imagine I got a sign, and will make some stupid choice based on something that was not a sign but simple indigestion or a sonic boom.
So, yesterday, still knowing nothing of what we needed to know to respond to the bank, which needed our answer that day, we went one last time to the yellow house to meet with our realtor and yet another foundation specialist. I slumped on the red concrete steps of the front porch and sighed. I’d gotten attached to the house, to the rhododendrons gracing its perimeter fencing (great dog fencing, by the way…), to the look of the small house standing straight and happy and facing the street with such hope and promise. We had not found, in this past year of looking for a house, anything that came close to this yellow bungalow.
I had completely given up on listening for Spirit when the communication finally came. I had quit asking God for a damn thing when she suddenly delivered. In that hour, we got—coincidently, with one unexpected call after another—every answer we needed. We got what I needed to let go of the yellow house completely and peacefully. The little place turned out to be a teardown, needing far, far more in repairs than the structure was worth. And I I could clamber back into our car knowing that we would not risk our finances, and that there was no question but that we would walk away.
There is a common theme in mythology, about the misguided and bumbling heroine of a story finally sitting down and weeping over her hands at her utter helplessness. In the stories, it is at these times that suddenly something as astonishing as a line of ants comes to bring her golden grains of sand, or the breeze carries a soft cloak of eiderdown and settles it upon her shivering shoulders. I had told my friend about this mythology, and told her that while I believed this universal storyline to be true for human life, I also was humbled to realize that in real life, sometimes the maiden weeps for years. Perhaps even decades. It can be a long time waiting for those ants. And so I have not expected anymore that the gods would intervene on behalf of my time table, ever.
But this time, they did. My author and friend Jody Seay calls these kinds of events “God Plops,” times when grace just sort of plops down utterly unexpectedly. The ants took the form of a cell phone and a engineering meter, but I think they were just masquerading. I think under the metal and plastic, it was ants—a short line of very determined ants. And I am reborn, stunned, in my fractured, ragged faith.