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Monday, June 14, 2010

Behind the Clouds

I crammed myself into the back of the Number One today, and checked my watch without much hope of good news. Just as I suspected time had not, in fact, started running backwards and I was going to be late to my CPR recertification class.

I reached into my bag to pull out my ipod and found that I had left it along with my cell phone on my bedside table. Sighing, I continued rummaging and came up with some reading material at the bottom of the bag: a folded up bulletin from the 8pm Mass at St. Clem's last night. Father Peter is usually a pretty engaging story teller, so I dug in, searching for his column.

"I know you," the man jammed into the seat next to me said. "You work at McInnis House."

I recognized his face, but not the name he gave me, and we chatted a bit as we rode.
 He's doing well, he reported, still in a treatment program, and still sober as a result.  "I gained some weight," he pointed out, "but it's better than the lifestyle I was living."  He  really feels like he's been successful in restarting his life. He asked me to say hello to "everyone over there" from him.

We fell into a comfortable silence. I finished reading Father Peter's column. I looked up and saw that we had a bunch of Mass Ave left to cover.

"I wish it were more sunny out," I remarked.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don't know why I said it. I actually don't mind cloudy days at all. In retrospect, had it been any more sunny out I also would have been upset about leaving my sunglasses on the kitchen counter.

He responded sincerely, "The sun is out, you know." And he smiled.

I know it looks like some Chicken Soup for the Sick Sad Soul written out here, but there was nothing trite about the way he said it. Instead, it was the truest thing I had heard all day.
Why had my go - to space filler in conversation been a complaint anyway?
A soft complaint, but a complaint nonetheless. How often do I do that and not even notice?

"You know the serenity prayer, right?" he asked me.  I said I did, but when he paused and I didn't recite it, he recited it instead. We both smiled.  He told me to take that thought with me for when my day wasn't going the way I wanted.

"You can restart your day whenever you want," he pointed out.

And I guess, of all people I ran into today, he would know.

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