This story was written to observe special weekend. Saturday is the five-year anniversary of my sister’s wedding, which is just days before my beautiful niece has her first Halloween. Sunday is the five-year anniversary of an important day in my spiritual life and will be my focus in this essay.
My car died a little more than a week before the wedding. A college buddy was going to be the minister and had to make a few preparations in Roanoke, so I hitched a ride with him to the rehearsal (with the intention of riding home with my father). After the rehearsal dinner, we stayed at the home of his then-fiancee’s family. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I love to connect with new people whenever I get the chance, so that was a nice arrangement.
As time drew near the wedding and the usual anticipation filled the air, I hurt my ankle shortly before I was to act as the usher. Despite the aches of frustration and pain, I kept it on ice and then simply hobbled about when I conducted my duties. After the wedding, I ended up having to borrow my sister’s car and stay where I’d stayed the night before.
My hostess put some salt in a hot water foot massager, which eased much of my pain that night; the next morning, she helped me wrap it with an elastic bandage…and a grocery bag to keep the bandage dry from the morning’s rain. As I drove to Charlottesville Friends Meeting, I heard Eva Cassidy’s amazing, slow, and sultry version of the song “Wade in the Water”; the song ended up–quite literally–enchanting me to the point of getting lost by missing multiple turns. Even after getting back on track, the song filled my mind with an incredible sense that it “meant something,” as if it foretold something.
I hobbled into the meetinghouse and made it into the discussion between the two meetings for worship. Once it ended, I “settled in” to meeting. I (naturally) ended up having to use the restroom and get a drink of water, because disruption was an ongoing theme. As I began to reenter the room, I was asked for the third time that morning if I needed assistance; I suppose a grocery bag-covered foot invokes such concern in people.
I sat back down and saw a man sitting on another bench with a denim vest and a hat with some sort of Confederate flag-like logo on it. I squinted in a “What Is Wrong With This Picture?” sense, but let it pass. As the air shifted through the tree leaves and into the open windows on that October morning, I finally started to completely relax. Naturally, that was disrupted by a noise from the bed of a pickup truck parked out front. It was two huge dogs! The dogs barked insanely and people sifted painfully in their seats. Eventually, it was too much. The “unusual” man jumped up from the bench and ran to the “unusual” pickup truck, screeching away from the meetinghouse.
Moments later, a woman stood up and spoke. She said her mind was filled with the words “Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water” as she was getting ready for meeting. I was stunned by that, kickstarted into thinking about the meanings intertwined with those words. I thought of the pool at Bethesda, where anyone who’d get into the water after it was stirred would be healed (something one would immediately think of with an aching ankle). By the end of meeting, I also thought of the role of that particular spiritual, which is for reminding slaves to go through water to cause the *DOGS* to lose track!
Since then, I do what I can to embrace the disruption/distraction that occurs. Doing so is one of the essential things that have kept me alive. Had I not borrowed my sister’s car that winter, I would not have landed a campaign job in January that provided me with one very dear friend who has believed in me and my abilities. It also fully ignited a sense of beauty in things that are disruptive, broken, and out of place. It also happens to fit very well with a biblical quote I dearly love: “Anyone alive has hope; even a live *DOG* is better off than a dead lion!”
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