Really, I tell you, never, never, never count God out.
Yesterday, while I was bewailing the uncertainty of my future and being lectured by Dr Phil in the Sky, the band of angels who are my family and friends were tying up the last loose ends of a conspiracy to get me not only a home, but Home. Next Friday I will wing my way out of Ur . . . or Egypt . . . or Dayton, Ohio, and head back to the City of the Angels. Waiting for me will be a small, manageable, even affordable by LA standards apartment—private space to live and work and pray and heal—in the best of all possible communal settings, the neighboring complexes where my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, as well as my DIL’s mom and her sister, brother-in-law, and their kids live. I will join in the nightly blessed chaos that is a Filipino family dinner. I will continue therapy and medication (and blogging!), and work on implementing the practices of accountability and simplicity that will be my lifelines for the rest of my life. There’s a vibrant parish blocks away, with daily Mass and an Adoration chapel.
And yes, my head is spinning.
This is not a shortcut to the Promised Land, I know. One of the reasons I never initiated this alternative myself is the fear and loathing of being a burden to the people I love most. But of course I am a burden, as we are all burdens and bearers of burdens for one another in this world if we understand what it means to be the Body of Christ. So it will be tough, but with grace I hope not only to accept being borne but eventually to take on my own share of their heavy lifting.
And it will be painful to uproot from this place that has often been, in some ways, more home to me than LA ever was. But the world is so much more closely united across time and space now than it was when I moved here in 1996, so maybe the uprooting won’t feel terminal. Besides, as my friend and Head Conspirator Michael says, one great thing about being Catholic is knowing there are never really any Goodbyes.
It’s happening fast—like all those times in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus does something or calls somebody to do something immediately. But not so quickly that I can’t acknowledge by name the angels who are bringing me home: my son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Feliz, and my grandson, Luke (his smile is the star I follow); Feliz’s mom, Sarah, and all her family; my sister, Mary Lou, and her family; my much sinned-against landlady and friend, Janet; my best friend, Jean, and her kids; my counselor, Greg; and the archangels, my friends and co-workers Brian and Perry and Michael, and the whole Vanderburgh family.
Angels that they are, they couldn’t have done this without the support of the best prayer teams on the planet: the crew at the Patheos Catholic Channel, my IHM Panda sisters, My Friend the Hermit, the friends here and in cyberspace and in the combox who have been praying me through this even when they didn’t know the gory details.
Please keep praying. Pray that I will have the humility to receive help and the courage to act on it—that I won’t, in other words, turn out to be one of those Dr Phil guests who repent for the cameras and then check themselves out of rehab early to go partying with seven worse devils. Pray that the angels who’ve helped me will be repaid a hundredfold. And most important, pray for those still trapped in the spiritual prison of hoarding disorder or any other untreated mental illness, for those who love them and grieve, and for those truly homeless this Advent. May they, too, be sustained by angels in the wilderness, carried by angels home.
And if you want to sing your prayer, I can’t think of a better way than with this Ben Kyle song. Mercy, Lord, and thank you.