This I Believe

Suzanne - Fitchburg, Wisconsin
Entered on May 11, 2007

A Prayer for the Lost

I’m a Christian now. You would think I’ve had this fact tattooed to my forehead. My New Age friend points it out constantly. She says, “Of course, you’re a Christian now…,” as if this explains everything. Her name is Marie. Marie tags this little reminder to the end of anything about which she does not really want my opinion. She and I used to agree about many things, but not any more. Now we disagree—often. I try to disagree gently because she is worried that I am trying to convert her. She’s right. I am.

Even though there is this tension about conversion—my desire, her resistance—she still likes to be with me. Marie hungers for spiritual experiences and feeds her spiritual cravings from a variety of sources. She attends seminars, reads books and listens to talk shows about spirituality. All the while she shows a reckless disregard, to my taste anyway, as to whether the spirit in discussion is the Holy Spirit or some other. She gains instruction on how to be happy, successful and at one with the universe, but usually there is a price to pay: she must fly somewhere, buy something or promise her first-born. She thinks she is part of a new club and that her ideas are avant-garde and gourmet. Inspired by her many teachers, she intends to make a living as some type of spiritual practitioner. She says I’ll be her first client.

As I said, there’s tension.

Meanwhile, she has other pressing matters. This morning, Marie sought guidance from a medium. Marie is single and wanted to know why she hasn’t found her soul mate. I suspect Marie had a second agenda: she wanted to study the medium’s ways. Spurred by popular television shows featuring soccer moms who speak to the dead and psychics who solve horrendous crimes, Marie believes she, too, will eventually talk with the dead and thus become a salaried hero. She yearns to have the past and the future revealed to her by special message from the spirits of other times and places.

She’s lonely. This happens.

This afternoon, I sat with Marie at her kitchen table sipping tea, a concoction prepared by a kinky local herbalist who promised Marie it would bring her happiness, smoother skin and legions of admirers for only $10 an ounce. We settled into our chairs and Marie delivered the shocking news.

“I can’t find my soul mate,” she says, “because he lives in another time.” We sip our tea in reverent silence as I contemplate the significance of living years before or after one’s soul mate.

“Have you read Audrey Niffenegger’s novel,” I ask, “The Time Traveler’s Wife? Fabulous, but if you read it, you must promise to keep in mind that it’s fiction.” I emphasize the word fiction. “Your medium is pulling your leg,” I add.

Marie takes this all in stride and says, “Of course you’d say that—You’re a Christian!”

I don’t always know the right thing to say to Marie. I often feel like a dufus and I’m baffled by her continuing friendship. I follow the advice of one of my Christian mentors: Listen 80% of the time and talk 20. Try not to lecture or sound like a know-it-all. Above all, pray.

Meantime, my dear lost friend suffers a profound spiritual hunger from which she finds no lasting relief. I thank God He came after me when I was lost. I pray He will lead Marie home, too.