The Road from Ruin
The SUV pulled into the driveway on eviction day as I sat in the garage on a plastic pail, the only object left after a year and half of emptying out the house. In tears, I shook the hand of the Realtor and took her inside for the inspection.
“I’m doing fifty to sixty of these a year now.” She tried to assuage me, forgetting to take the mandatory pictures as I led her from room to room.
After the thumbs up, she got back in her SUV and phoned the lawyers in St. Paul and then told me the promised ‘re-location’ fee was to be out in the mail that very day. After she left, I walked around back and said goodbye to the squirrels, Blue jays and crows, realizing that no 11th hour rescue occurred whatsoever with this one. None.
The house transformed into an equity amulet, a vacant caricature that took on an even more deserted hue as I drove away. Having nowhere to go, I headed for the state park to book a couple of nights for winter camping. The park ranger felt sorry for me and offered me free firewood, so I was able to stay sufficiently warm and managed to set up camp and reflect on what had happened without getting frostbitten.
Staring into the flames and listening to the ice crack on the lake, I recalled what I had failed to tell the Realtor, what really led up to the loss of the house in the first place. It was a different kind of default, one she would not remotely understand, even with her mortgage calculator. It involved me believing the lie that evil is an illusion, something within ourselves that we have to work through by doing good karma. If I would have known the truth of the matter I wouldn’t have set myself up for such a fall. Space does not allow me to go into the details, but read between the lies of the pregnant implication above if you can.
Laying under several blankets in my tent on a full moon night accented by yipping coyotes to the west, I contemplated the contrary truth of the matter: that evil is real and objective and outside of ourselves and what it took for me to come to accept it. It nearly cost me everything. It nearly cost me my soul.
The next night, I received an unexpected confirmation, quite timely indeed, as I was truly losing faith. As I sat on my pail by the fire, I heard a disembodied voice tell me to put a gold plated cross I had bought at Hurley's Religious supply store in Fargo directly upon the coals. Without hesitation, I did so. Glowing red hot, it refused to melt, no matter how much I blew on the coals and stoked the fire with kindling. The next day it was still intact, chain and all, dangling from a log defiantly. As I put the charred evidence in my palm, the same voice informed me, "You survived a trial by fire."
My survival pride was kept in check however in an icy kind of way. On Monday morning, my car wouldn't turn over. I had cheated and used the heated seats to warm up a few times, thus draining the battery. Flipping through contacts on my I-Phone, I tapped on one. After an hour of waiting, my one lunged Indian friend came with her dog. Chewing me out as she hobbled to get her jumper cables out of the trunk, she managed to get the Malibu to start. We made quite a pair in the empty park that morning fighting with one another, while her pooch cavorted in the snow. She asked me if I needed money after refusing my offer of buying her a year pass to Minnesota State parks. Then she started to cry and asked me if I really did have coyotes trained to bury me after I did myself in with a .380 Taurus west of Sunset Lake. I apologized and told her I was a writer and never knew how my audience would respond to something I've stated. She even called me afterward to tell me how hurt she was when I said the thing about the coyotes. I was quite touched,since no one else seemed to care.
So my friends, as I buy time here for a sufficiently unifying apostrophe to end this wayward confession, a bit discombobulated because of my utter physical exhaustion, I'm compelled to share the following from Philippians 2:12:
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
And don't buy into the lie. Please.