I apologize….. I’m having issues with my blog disappearing and not updating tonight…. Working on it!
Let me tell you about an annual tradition of mine. When it gets to be winter, I tell myself, I should really take good care of myself and my car, by starting my car early so the engine warms up before I leave for work.
I rush out in the dark, start the car, and carefully lock it so no one steals it, than race back inside to finish getting ready while the engine purrs and the car gets nice and toasty.
This year, on this first day I did this, I thought, Did I lock my car? I hope so, because someone could steal it. I was happy to step out, now properly dressed for work, to find that the car door was in fact locked.
My happiness fizzled, however, when I reached in my coat pocket for my keys, and found none. I instantly grew cold with the realization that I had done it again. My car was running, locked. No thieves would break in, but neither would I. My car keys were inside my house, which was now also locked.
I dug out my phone anyway and called one of my friends who has a copy of my house key. Keep in mind, this is 4:50 am, but she graciously agreed to come. I waited on my porch, slightly cold, and watched two figures walk toward me in the darkness, then cut around behind a building. I was glad to see my friend’s car arrive.
“On the bright side,” I told her, “neither of our days is likely to get worse.”
Unfortunately, mine did. In fact, by the next evening-Friday night-I was angry and restless. I came home from work, and ran into my house to get a few things to take to my aunt, who had invited me for supper. I left my bag in my car, but I carried my pager with me, even though it would only be a few minutes, because I never wanted to miss a page from one of the nurses from work, or the supervisor calling about an emergency surgery, or a family member wanting to ask a question. I locked my car behind me, but this time I had my keys. I was in a hurry to go to my aunt’s house, or my friends’ house, to get some advice on how to love people in difficult situations.
I gathered my things, and went sailing back out onto my porch. As my front door slammed behind me, a chill of fear shot through me. Do I have my keys? I reached my hand into my coat pocket.
I had my purse in my hand, and a package I was going to show my aunt. I had chosen a fashion-less combination of socks and Skechers.
I reached for my phone, to call my friend who has my key. Not there. Then, I remembered that I had left it in my bag in the car, which was also locked.
I walked out onto the damp cement of the side walk. I had no money, no phone, and no keys, which meant I had no car and no house.
There appeared to be only one choice, and that was to go to my friends’ house on foot. Thankfully, my friend had told me she would be at home doing homework. It was only about eight blocks, and though darkness was falling, it wasn’t dark. Though the sidewalk was damp, but it wasn’t currently raining. And though my shoes were unfashionable, they were comfortable. Besides, a brisk walk might abate my mental turmoil.
I began to walk through the gathering gloom and mist. I crossed the street, then crossed the river on the bridge with a walkway separated from the road by a waist-high cement wall, and from the river by a length of chain-link fence. I strode up the hill, took a couple of turns. It began to rain, and I clutched my package and my purse more closely and picked up speed and soon arrived at my friends’ front door. I saw lights on, so I pounded, but no one came. Perhaps my friend had moved to a coffee shop to work.
My options were diminishing. I crossed the street, and knocked on the door of the house across from my friends. Two dogs burst forth in high gear as soon as I made a noise.
“Who’s that?” I heard a suspicious voice say, and a pair of eyes peaked out the window at me. I tried to look peaceful, harmless, and un-desperate.
The door opened, and a teenager with huge bushy hair looked out, the pair of dogs barking on high around his feet.
“Do you know your neighbors across the street?” I yelled.
“What?” he yelled. The dogs barked louder.
“My friends live in that house,” I yelled pointing. “Do you know them?”
I sighed and turned away, with a comment about needing a phone number because I locked myself out of my house, but I’m certain he didn’t hear me.
I returned to their porch, and pounded at a volume I thought would carry even to the back room upstairs, but no one came, and I concluded they were not home. My shoulders slumped in disbelief.
At least my pager had not gone off. It wasn’t likely to, at least, since the nurses didn’t usually page me late in the evening. But since I didn’t have a phone, I wouldn’t be able to call them back, so I was nervous.
There was nothing to do but head back home. I was beginning to feel excessively desolate. Perhaps this was a bit of what it was like to be homeless. No house, no car, no phone, no money, and a purse that made me look like a good person to mug. On the bright side, I could say with perfect honesty that I had nothing to steal.
As I was walking away, not even yet to the river, my pager went off. I looked at the number, and I didn’t recognize it. If I would have known who it was, I might have relaxed, but not knowing made me desperate to get to a phone. I hurried on through the dark, walking in front of a moving car at the intersection without thinking about how dark it probably was to the driver.
I arrived on my neighbor’s porch. Surely she would be home. I knew that she didn’t always answer the door due to security concerns, but I was determined to get her attention.
I rang the doorbell, and pounded the screen door.
I rang the doorbell again, perhaps to hastily, but I was getting desperate.
“It’s Katrina!” I yelled.
I rang the door bell again and again, and yelled my name again, but no one came.
I saw three men walking my way across the street. They turned aside into a house with words about a party.
I prayed, and rang, and yelled and pounded. I was about to give up, but where would I go next? I could go to some other neighbors, but I didn’t have many telephone numbers memorized to contact my friends. And I had to call the hospital, and soon!
Then, two eyes peeked out between the blinds, and my friend’s daughter let me in.
“Who’s that?” Mary yelled down. “Oh, it’s Katrina!”
I collapsed on the stairs and called the hospital. Thankfully, there was no emergency and I was able to resolve the issue over the phone. I contacted my friend, who was in fact at home, and who nicely agreed to come rescue me again.
Then, I collapsed on the stairs and blew off to Mary for awhile, since I clearly wouldn’t be making it to my aunt’s house.
“Katrina,” she said, and I knew I was going to get a wise, straight forward pep talk.
Later that evening, after a good time on my friend’s couch and the talk from Mary, God spoke words of peace and courage to my soul. Today, when the mental battles rose again, I spent time with God. I read some verses, and read a few lines from Amy Carmichael’s book If.
She shared a desperate cry of her own, at a time when she was afraid she could not love: Deep unto deep, O Lord, Crieth in me, Gathering strength I come, Lord, unto Thee. Jesus of Calvary, Smitten for me, Ask what Thou wilt, but give Love to me.
Yes, ask what Thou wilt, she goes on, any hopes, any joys of human affection. Any rewards of love–but let not love depart. Nothing ordinary is equal to this new call; nothing in me suffices for this. O Lord of Love and Lord of Pain, abound in me in love: love through me, Love of God.
Ah! We cannot love on our own, without the key of the love of Christ.
According to Amy Carmichael, were you to lose every other key, this is the one you would want to save.
Without this key, every night would be dark and every walk would be rainy. Every street would be dangerous.
Without Christ’s love, we would all be homeless!
Oh to carry that key in my pocket always!
Love through me love of Christ!