A couple of Sundays back, someone who might be called a bit of a “lost stranger” wandered across the church yard, and ended up coming into the church and connecting with a couple of different people in the few minutes that preceded the beginning of worship. For all that he came across as a pretty rough looking character – and for all that he was more than just a drink or two on his way – the guy was strangely vulnerable. One of the people he talked with that night wrote the following meditation, imagining how it all looked from the stranger’s perspective. And he wasn’t just a nameless stranger. He said his name was Joey.
ife is full of mistakes. I walked through the wrong door. I was hoping to score a free cup of coffee from this church, so I asked a girl standing outside the front doors to bring me a cup, and she told me to come in and get it myself. I waited around outside for a minute but another lady started asking me for cigarettes and I didn’t have any to spare. Besides, free coffee seemed like as good a reason as any to walk into a church and so I did.
When I walked in the sight inside made me break. The light was breaking through the open doors and shining down onto my face, the piano man at the front of the room played sweet chords. I removed my hat and attempted to quietly pace side to side as I swallowed the room. The feeling was so good it couldn’t have been the wrong door, the room was vibrant with it, I was in a minute in awe for I had found the exactness of right behind that door. The sway of air between my lungs and the space was ripe and sweet, and I realized that tears were pouring fresh out of my eyes. And the eyes of strangers were pouring fresh into me; I felt sensitive as a child. I thought, oh yes these must be the right doors but I am without a doubt the wrong man. I began to think, I cannot be the one that these doors are open for. Not with my luck, not with my fists.
And I looked down into my hands I could see clearly what everybody else could; the six pack of beer I had in a plastic bag. This is my ailment and my love. For years it has been with me, from every moment that I need it and pursue it, buy it and eventually burn in it. It has been my life and my death. It was a bag of my own demons and I couldn’t very well just carry it through the church and sing praise thee Lord and amen the gospels with everybody else, even if they let me in; even if they understood. And right there I knew it that seven dollar bag stood between me and the door. An hour of peace for seven dollars was the small wager; or was it much more? Like I said life is full of mistakes, best of all walking through wrong doors and stepping on the toes of strangers, worst of all valuing only time and money. Was I saved?