The Wholly (Holy) Other

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

-Epictetus

I generally leave for work really early so that I get there just as the office is opening. Several times, I’ve gotten there before there was even anyone to unlock the door. In light of this, I saw a police car on the side of the road with one policeman trying his best to change a tire. I’m no expert except in holding things, so I pulled up in front of him and asked him if he needed any help. He said no, he was good, but thanked me profusely for stopping. I said, “thank you for your service,” and got back into my car feeling that at least if I couldn’t help, I payed attention to the Good Samaritan law. In this day and age, I wonder if he thought I was stopping to shoot him while he was down, so I approached carefully and yelled before I got to him that if he needed help, I was available.

The Good Samaritan law comes from the Bible, a parable about how two men on opposite sides politically came together when something like that seemed impossible. The injured man’s own people “Kitty-ed” him, a phrase I use for Kitty Genovese, who was murdered because no one wanted to get involved for fear of being thought as suspect. Literally, no one did anything.

It took an outsider, a hated man in that territory, to see need and respond to it. I can’t think of a more apt description than stopping to help a white policeman, someone I am groomed to hate because of all the bullshit I see with inequality with arrests and the sheer number of blacks being incarcerated for the smallest of things. White college kids carrying pot are just “boys being boys,” and black ones stay in the system forever… and let me remind you that this happens in Washington, DC, where laws state that pot is legal to begin with.

So I, this wholly other, stopped to help someone in need even though I was wary to do so. I was the Samaritan, and I felt every bit of it.

My last Good Friday was abominable, and I felt like starting this one out right. As I told Susan, “I want to be right with God and my neighbor.” This helped me to feel like I was putting words into action and not just saying things to make myself feel better. It reminds me of Argo, my little lost lamb (although she is not so little… she’s a badass with muscle to prove it). In that entry, I talked about putting actions behind my words, rather than just saying and not doing. The peace offering was a special order from Share a Coke, a bottle that says “Share a Coke with Argo.” It never arrived, but the sentiment was the same… I have done you wrong and I don’t want to ever do that again. To want a response, again, was not giving just for the spirit of it. It gave me something to give something to her.

I am finding that the Good Fridays of my life are slowing taking on “resurrection in the middle of the mess.” We blessed and released our relationship, so all is well even though we don’t communicate. I didn’t want my past to be my only narrative, that source of anger that bubbled up in me without an appropriate outlet. I wish to God I could have been the friend she needed, instead of regressing into my abused nature.

Susan came into my life at the perfect time, my stranger on a train (literally) that doesn’t mind hearing me out in the same way I want to hear her. I feel that I have more tools in my emotional toolbox, and I want to be able to show them… to be the friend to her that I couldn’t be to Argo because I was so damaged at the time. I still can’t believe some of the things I said to push her away, and the blowback was enormous… just enormous… because for every hot button I used to push on her, she knew all of mine as well. The weak spots that would hurt, and they did…. enormously so.

It is my life’s work to put that in my past, and to become the wounded healer both Jesus and Henri Nouwen want me to be. I pray every day for both my own healing and the healing of others for the destruction I caused. I pray for Dana, that she will one day work past her hurt and anger so that we can at least have a less awkward relationship than we would have if we were constantly running into each other. I pray for Aaron and the way I bitch-slapped him for wanting to move to Austin after his divorce, because moving after mine was so hypocritical, and in effect, abandoning someone I’d really grown to love… showing me was true, deep friendship meant without the undercurrent of sex that led me to believe sex and friendship were the same thing.

That is the mark that Diane left on me, another part of my life’s work to erase that is coming along nicely. The thing that gives me hope is that Dana and Aaron continue to be friends, and so even if I am not there, they at least have each other. I miss the days of hanging out with the two of them, in effect Aaron being our “third mike” like Jimmy Norton on the Opie & Anthony show. However, I could not be in that situation any longer, because that piece of me fell apart, and I knew I could never go back. To say why is to betray someone I love dearly, but sufficed to say I wanted to be a different person and I got it.

My little town (Silver Spring, MD) rescued me. Hayat was the first call I made when looking for a room on Craig’s List, and even though I can afford my own apartment now, I don’t want to move. I like having a family around that checks in when I am sick, depressed, or both. They are Lebanese, wholly other to me, and the wholly, holy other I needed to get my life back on track.

For instance, the checking in came when I texted Hayat and said, “do you have a little bit of whiskey I could have? My cold is so bad that I want to make a hot toddy.” She said she didn’t have any whiskey, but she would leave brandy on the kitchen counter. I added it to some black tea with lemon and sugar in the raw (I didn’t have any honey), and within a few minutes, I felt better.

It has always been like this, from the first day. A family I could count on that would help me when I was down and get excited for me when I was up.

This company is the same way. We all have a good time while we’re working hard, and I can’t imagine life without any one of them…. which is why I’m usually the first one here and the last to leave. I don’t get overtime because I’m salaried, but I have drive to finish projects and not leave them in the middle just because it’s 6:00. Today we’re having burgers delivered for lunch, and I got a “hypocrite,” a veggie burger with crisp bacon. I am salivating just thinking about it.

Good Samaritans abound if you’re looking for them. If you are in the middle of your own Good Friday, they will help you find your Easter.

Amen.

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