by Jon Dephouse
Another gem from Christian Wiman. Be sure to read all the way through, you won’t regret it:
One day when I had gone to a little chapel near my office at lunchtime and was once more praying while wondering how and why and to whom I prayed, a man came in and eased into the pew directly across the aisle from me. As we were the only two people there, his choice of where to sit seemed odd, and irritating. Within a couple of minutes, all thought of God was gone into the man’s constant movements and his elaborate sighs, and when I finally rose in exasperation, he stood immediately to face me. He had the sandblasted look of long poverty, the skeletal clarity of long addiction, and that vaguely aggressive abasement that truly tests the nature one’s charity. Very cunning, I noted, failing the test even as I opened my wallet: to stake out this little chapel, to prey upon the praying! For days then it nagged at me – not him, but it, the situation – which, I finally realized, was precisely the problem: how easily a fatal complacency seeps into even those acts we undertake as disciplines, and how comfortable we become with our own intellectual and spiritual discomfort. Wondering how and why and to whom I prayed? I felt almost as if God had been telling me, as if Christ were telling me (in church no less): get off your mystified ass and do something.