It’s been rather breezy of late in Portland. I drive around, and my eye is drawn to the flapping Tibetan prayer flags that are hung from about every 10th house (every 5th house in my rather bohemian neighborhood). Prayers, being taken up by the wind and scattered to all corners of the earth.
Why haven’t my prayers been answered?
I’m human, it happens. I doubt in myself. I doubt in God. I haven’t prayed the Daily Office in weeks, instead making a pilgrimmage to the coffee shop for something to help pry my eyes open and a place to rest my laptop to surf job sites. I haven’t been to church in longer, I tend to forget what day it is, I can’t fall asleep until 6am pretty much every night, I’ve always been prone to stress-induced insomnia. Then I wake up at 10am and church is already over, my alarm clock somehow was unplugged and stashed under the television stand.
Why don’t I have a job yet?
My last interview was three weeks ago, for part time work at IKEA. They haven’t called back, haven’t returned my phone calls. My laptop is now falling apart. Literally, the hinge has cracked and it’s being held together by duct tape. I need to take it in; if the repair is over $200 I’m scrapping it and buying my friend’s old Mac Mini. $200 is exactly 2/3rds of my weekly unemployment check. The phone is ringing again, I don’t pick it up. I can’t pay my student loans, sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen, though, getting a college degree was supposed to insure I had work. That’s what the slick brochures said, and they also said that because I’d always have a job, I’d never default on my student loans, so just sign your life away here, here, and initial here.
Am I being punished for some past sin?
If I have to shell out $200, either for a new machine or a repair, I won’t have money for food. My cupboards are getting pretty bare, unless you, you know, enjoy eating shortening straight from the can. I’ll have to go down to church, I can sneak in the back during the free lunch, because they know me and I won’t have to stand in line with the other people. I’m allowed back into the pantry, and I’ll admit to whomever is working there that I’m not here to help pack bags today, I’m the one in need of assistance. I’ll sneak out the back way, again, put the bags in my car, hope not many people see me, because then there will be questions and people trying to offer reassurance and advice. I’m signed up with four different temp agencies, thank you; I know things will get better; I appreciate it, but they told me I was overeducated; If I don’t find something in the next month, I’m going to have to leave Portland.
Why is this happening to me?
My unemployment insurance runs out the first week of September. I’m so tired of moving, was ready to settle into a permanent job, even one outside my field. People around the country have promises of rooms to stay in, of booming job markets, of cheap housing and vibrant downtowns that remind them of Portland. Except with blizzards, tornadoes, and cockroaches the size of Texas. I thought leaving Sacramento was hard, in retrospect, it was freakin’ easy. I hadn’t made but two friends in the three years I lived there. Here? Here I’ve got family, a community, people who tracked my stupid butt down and yelled at me for scaring them, asked why I hadn’t been to church in over a month, and then laughed at me when I had to count in my head to figure out, oh, it’s not May anymore, huh?
Where the hell is God right now?
I make myself leave the house at least once a day. Most of the time I walk, around the neighborhood, trying all the coffee shops within a 10 block radius (there’s 9 different ones, and Stumptown’s only 12 blocks away), looking at the strange things people put up to decorate their houses. ‘Beware of Pirates’ signs are rather popular right now. My prayer list from church is the one from April 22nd, but it’s still in my pocket. Sometimes it comes out, I’ll read a few names, almost get squished by a bicyclist, put it away and pay attention to where I’m going.
Where are those prayers flying off to?
Will they ever wing their way back?