The Scare of My Life

Okay, so where to begin? These days I’ve graduated, and so naturally I began the whole job search thing. I looked into some stuff with Delta as well as these commercial cleaning contracts I was bidding on; none of this comes through.

FINALLY I get a call, it’s Borders Bookstore. They want to hire me full-time, with benefits. Well, okay. The drawbacks: The want me on Saturday nights, when my church meets, and they want me to work half of the time not on the booksellers side, but for Borders Cafe. (*Yes, I now work at Borders Cafe!*) And the pay’s not much to write home about either. Sigh. Well, I accept anyway, even with the less-than-ideal situations, hoping and praying they’ll work out.

I’ve been reading a book, HEARING GOD by Dallas Willard. S’good. About developing a conversational relationship with God, in the larger context of a life nourished by awareness of and communion with Him. Willard likes Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubuch, two of my favorite Christian mystics–who, incidentally, we’re reading for this contemplative prayer retreat some saints and I are going on. Talking to and hearing from God; it’s good…

…And not a moment too soon, with the near-death experience I felt this afternoon.

I was at Borders. Not to work; I thought I had to work today, but I was mistaken, and with my car broken down, I had to wait a bit to contact mi madre for a return trip. Well, s’not like a bookstore’s a bad place for a guy like me to be sranded anyway, right? So I pick up the the latest Sojourners Magazine and Volume Three of the 100 Bullets Graphic Novel (that’s comic book for all you plain speakers out there).

So, I plopped down on the leather sofa, and opened the front cover to my first reading item, and that’s when it hit. An inward feeling, like a combination between nausea and a panic attack. I imagine it’s what “heart palpitation” could feel like. I imagine it’s what “heart attack” could feel like. Shots of cool…something began to go through my right arm, and I broke out into a cold sweat. Finally, my right cheek began to go numb. This was all like nothing I’ve ever felt before, and I had no idea what I was *really* feeling and what fear, imagination, two coffees and sleep deprivation was making me feel. In any event, I kept looking at the floor, thinking I was about to collapse on it, and lose consciousness.

I imagined it was what the beginning of your death could well feel like.

So I got up off the sofa, and got some water. The feelings were still there. “Wait, God. I thought I still had some time left,” I told Him. I was serious. I thought this was it. “Let’s You and me have a little walk-and-talk,” I said to the Lord, as calmly as I could muster. (Walk and talk, you ask? Well, I was just reading a crime comic book, gangster-speak…what do you expect?)

So I left Borders, and went walking in the mall. Well no, first I put all of my books back. (Hey, if I’m going to die, I don’t want them saying I was inconsiderate!) Then, I had a power stride through the mall, like those post-soccer mom’s I see with headphones doing their laps, skinny latte in one hand and stopwatch in the other. But I wasn’t trying to sweat to the oldies, I was trying to make my breathing feel regular, and listen. To God.

What more is there to tell? I lived, obviously. And didn’t get picked up for awhile. I probably looked like hell to anyone who saw me. But I think I had something real with God—some genuine communication. He told me to lay off on all the caffine, and start focusing on my cardiovascular health. To replace harmful bodily practices with sound, life-giving ones. And, He said, the same thing goes for me spiritually, doubly. Certain harmful life-patterns and habits (sorry…this isn’t a kiss and tell journal! Me and J.C. know about it though) have to go, and purposeful times of Awareness of him, with all of the attendant joys, are to replace my self-destruction.

Needless to say it was a wake-up call. Whether I live ’till my 25th birthday or my 125th, I’m living on borrowed time. My life is not my own.

“Jesus, give me the continued softness of heart to recognize this. Do not let me harden and deaden to life’s cares. Make me continually sensitive to Your Life within me and others.”

Whew. The first day of the rest of my life…whatever duration that may be. Thanks for letting me share.

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