I could be a lot more broken


from my encounter on the streets of Philadelphia

with the bruised and broken Karl, who’d said to me, “God sent you to me.” While pondering whether there was some tailored life-lesson or conclusion to be drawn, I got this email from my friend C.

C: A sad sad situation indeed. Your kindness and persistence are remarkable, you probably showed him more caring than he’d received in a long time. And maybe helping someone whose life is so broken was just the support group you needed. Helping others is always good therapy.
Me: You brought a tear to my eye. Maybe God sent him to me?

I had forced myself
out of bed and my comfort zone (also known as bed), thinking I don’t know how to live life, heading for a dreaded intimate confessional meeting with strangers–but in doing so demonstrating to myself I had the strength to make the move. And then, in contrast to Karl, I was all kinds of competent. First obvious advantage: I have legs I can walk on. I have a cell phone and know to call for help. I can figure things out, explore options, pay for breakfast, and remove myself from an onerous situation. All of which suggest what Byron Katie posits in Loving What Is:


Often I ask myself,

of the mysteries of my childhood, “Why can’t I just ask someone who was there?” Well sugar plum, you were there. Ask yourself! Someone in a movie, I don’t remember which, referenced William James’ idea that “memory is not like a well that you dip into, or a filing cabinet. When you remember something, you remember the memory. You remember the last time you remembered it, not the source. So its always getting fuzzier, like a photocopy of a photocopy. It’s never getting fresher or clearer, so even a very strong memory can be unreliable, because it’s always in the process of dissolving.”

Perhaps I will never know the truth.

But will I stop seeking it? I would rather look to myself for guidance and leave God out of the equation. Too much baggage.* God is a romantic notion, like astrology, whereby things out of our control dictate our lives. It’s darling to think we are the way we are because the stars were where they were at our birth, or because God has “a plan” humans know not to question because we’re only human and can’t know the mind of God.

* Oh wait, didn’t I decide that the expression in Goof City would be “too much luggage”? “I’m not going out with him, he’s got too much luggage.” Yes, there’s too much luggage around God.

It’s too easy peasy to believe

in an anthropomorphic figure who created man in his own image. Well isn’t that convenient, because how could we know what God looks like? Turns out, just like us! It’s astonishing the extent to which mankind revolves around the concept of God. More plausible to me is “the energy of the universe.” I do believe in “putting it out” to the universe and being “answered” by the universe. Ever think of a friend and they call you later that day? “I called you out.” There’s something floating around out there connecting things up in weird, wild, wonderful ways.
Just as Karl and I connected on a Saturday morning in Philadelphia.

♦ ♣ ♥ ♠

It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle.
 – Frank Buechner


One thought on “I could be a lot more broken”

  1. Alexandra..

    Your solution with Karl’s problems was more complete and compassionate than I would have been able to muster up, I’m ashamed to admit. And I would have made myself pay for that periodically throughout whatever is left of my life. I suspect you would have too if you hadn’t aided him as thoroughly as you did.

    My closer friends know that if I break a moment of revery with a sudden GODDAMMIT!!! (or worse) I’m not having a tourette’s moment.. I’ve just relived a moment from sometime in my past (any time between earlier today and grade school) where I, was found lacking.. possibly only in my own opinion! If you’re at all like that Karl should never again surface to haunt you!

    I was very appreciative of that last thought you inserted by Frederick Buechner.. I’ll have to give that a good deal of consideration.. see if it may not help me in my everlasting search for Faith.

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