Out of Nineveh: My Life with (and without) God – Part I

St. Jonah

 

When I was born, Nineveh was no longer the capital of an evil Assyrian empire.

It was a small town in the Midwest, straight out of Hoosiers

With a mother seeking comfort, finding passing victory in valium

And a father consumed by work and entangled by emotions unexpressed.

Their friends put beer in my bottle and laughed

At the toddler toddling tipsy to the turf.

 

A picture in my uncle’s yearbook shows me at 3.

In the crowd at a basketball game,

Eyes riveted on the action; not reacting like the others.

Serious, searching for substance in the orange globe of a ball.

As if God had put it there.

 

Sports gave structure to my days.

Something to do to escape.

Countless hours at the school playground,

I was Pistol Pete Maravich.

Each shot a last-second buzzer beater,

A ticket to immortality.

 

When my parents divorced,

I was made to choose where to live.

I chose to live with Dad where I could be free

To eat Braunsweiger and Nacho Cheese Doritoes

Until I made myself sick.

 

Dad’s buddies came over to drink Budweiser,

One asked, “Do you like to play with yourself?”

I said, “Sure.”

He burst out laughing: spewed beer through his nose.

 

I moved in with Mom and Dan, my step-father.

He was an EMT and liked to carry guns.

We watched “Emergency” during dinner.

Dan would yell at the TV, shouting instructions.

 

They argued a lot – Mom and Dan.

One day Dan pulled out his gun and started waving it ar0und.

I felt a sharp stab in my gut and yelled out.

Mom got Dan to look at me.

He decided my appendix had burst, so he called the ambulance,

They called it gastritous.

I think it was the finger of God.

 

I was driven to succeed in high school

In sports and studies.

My senior year I discovered girls

Pam Murray, in particular –

Her dad was a missionary.

To date her, I had to go to church,

Which I gladly did.

She was looking for more than kisses and cuddles.

I wanted more than her body had to offer.

 

At 18, I was on top of the world

But it was not such a steady place to stand.

I had mono when I gave the graduation speech.

I talked about the need for faith,

With a runny nose.

 

I recited the poem “Richard Cory” – which begins,

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And ends…

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

 

the story continues…

Sent to Serve: My Life with (and without) God – Part II

Prayer, Parenting, Pits, and Pills: My Life with (and without) God – Part III

A Clarion Call: My Life with (and without) God – Part IV

Alone in a Fog: My Life with (and without) God – Part V

On a Teeter-Totter: My Life with (and without) God – Part VI

In the Heart of the Finger Lakes: My Life with (and without) God – Part VII

Chosen to Adopt: My Life with (and without) God – Part VIII

Lost on Long Island: My Life with (and without) God – Part IX

(image “St. Jonah” from Mauricio Alfonso Naya in Art / Illustration / Etc.)

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