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Are You Okay?

The book, The War of Art, made its way out from the pile of books on the ground, in the corner of the room. I heard mention of its title in a couple of podcasts one day, like it was encouraging, or rather enticing me, to read it.

Easy enough since I read it somewhere in the blur of 2017. The book is on the topic of resistance.

This morning, I was all about giving into resistance, by avoiding this blog post. Feeling the anxiety within pressure me to continue, while the excuses form words and phrases, convincing me to just post bi-weekly. Who cares anyway? And maybe I could write a post of better quality, one that is rid of grammar errors and such. Besides, I am the only one pressuring me with this stupid deadline…

You get the train I am on. The one when excuses lead to procrastination, and eventually lead to a lesser feeling of one’s self.

That is when I pick it up, the book sitting next to me, hoping to see something profound to motivate action–

“A professional accepts no excuses. If he caves today, he’ll likely cave tomorrow.”

Okay. Okay. I will post today, but not something from today. Actually, I noticed something else in the book–it was my writing alongside his, barely noticeable as it was written by my yellow highlighter against the white page. It was a simple question, “Are you okay?”

The question was posed to me by another shortly after Bill died. Yes, this is the type of question one would ask a person in such a time as this, but it was much more than that.

The question was Heaven sent.

From August 22, 2017:

I hope I can articulate with words, this moment of mine.

I see her sitting on the ground as I approach, the same spot the high-schoolers wait to be picked up on a school day. At first I wondered from a distance if school began this week, and not next, thinking this was a student. As I get closer, I feel the energy of her appearance–its the homeless woman. And her dog. And her luggage on rollers.

I saw her first a few days earlier as I was entering the coffee shop. She sat at a table to the left of the entrance. I said, “Hi,” as I approached, not entirely convinced she’s homeless as her appearance doesn’t lend itself that way. Not disheveled, but put together. Neat. Like her clothes were without blemish and freshly pressed.

She doesn’t acknowledge my kind gesture, either she didn’t hear, or she just dismissed me. My girls say I can be a creeper, so it is possible.

Anyway, yesterday I go back to the coffee shop to work on writing stuff, and she is sitting at a booth on the other end of the room. The same spot years ago I met with destiny as I was offered an unexpected opportunity to be a children’s minister without warning; she sits in the same spot.

I can’t take my eyes off her. She doesn’t move. Stoic, as if looking off in a distant, staring at something intently, yet no one in particular. A glass of water sits in front of her.

And here she is. In my neighborhood. Miles away from the coffee shop, with all her earthly possessions, sitting on her bottom—as if waiting for something, or someone.

As I run by, my heart beats faster, I get closer and attempt eye contact as she takes off her glasses and holds them in her hand. I again say, “Hi.”

She says, “Hi.”

The acknowledgement makes me stop in my tracks.

I ask, “Are you okay?”

She doesn’t answer my question, but tilts her head slightly, and responds to my question with a question, without a hint of sarcasm, “Are you okay?”

I answer as honest as possible with the complete stranger, “Yeah, I guess so.”

I tell her I saw her at the coffee shop the day before. She seems surprised at this, “You did?”

“Yes, maybe I’ll see you there again.” I say as I move my feet forward.

My thoughts conflict as I make my way to the main road. Irrational fear fights for lead attention. What if this is a set-up and people have been secretly staking me out to attack me when my defenses are down? They are here to rob my possessions, or worse, attack my wellbeing.

NO, I feel an instant peace within say that is ridiculous.

A quick shift has me envisioning Morgan Freeman, as the “homeless” man in ‘Bruce Almighty’, standing there in plain sight, holding a sign. He was God, but no one recognized him as such. 

Is this, not God, but perhaps an angel in disguise?

How did she get there, or better question, why was she here?

I turn back around, wondering her whereabouts as I make my way to the plateau at the top of the hill, before the decline.

And there she is. On the opposite side of the road, walking my way, slowly.

How did she get this far, this soon? I am slow, but I am not a turtle.

I lock my gaze on her as we are side by side, with the road as a barrier between us. She looks my way, catches my gaze as I smile, and wave. Yes I am a creeper.

She smiles slightly, and waves back. With her small dog and luggage in tow, a distance is created as we go different ways, until she is out of sight.

If she is at the coffee shop today, I will offer her a cup of coffee.

She goes unnoticed.

I notice her.

She notices me.

So hours later I enter my car to head in the direction she headed, the long and windy road with zero businesses that eventually lead to town, about ten minutes by vehicle.

The radio is on, it is in the midst of a sermon as I back out of my garage. This is what I hear:

The first thing God did for Elijah when he wanted to exit from existence (my paraphrase):

  1. God sends an angel.
  2. Asks a question.
  3. Speaks a word.

God sent an angel, who asked me a question,

Are you okay?

That’s a mess of a question. Every day I fight to be alive. To live. To not want to die. I am tired. I don’t want to end my life, I just don’t know how to live without him here.

I am so lonely.

I make my way her way, she is not there. I go to the coffee shop. She is not there. I come home with coffee in hand, set it on the island and head to bed. Exhausted.

I am convinced God will speak a word to me. I am waiting for the whisper, the one that came to Elijah while he was in the entrance of the cave all those years ago–when he desired death over life.

You will speak when you are ready. Until then, I will rest as Elijah rested from his weariness.

I am grateful Lord. I am. It’s hard not to cave in to this desire to die. I know You know this.

Last week I caught myself saying something to myself, speaking it to life as if it were true, “I love my life.”

It caught me off guard. I smile at the thought, and head out the door to tackle another day, and realize, I am okay.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Steph Harrison on April 1, 2019 at 1:53 am

    I love reading your writing, Josie, and I’m glad you’re alive. 🙂 Keep writing. I need to read your work!

    • josiebarone on April 6, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you – some days are harder than others to keep the head above water, but so appreciate your encouragement.

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