Jaundice permeated me in my premature beginning. Too small and insecure under the buzzing fluorescent lights of a Methodist hospital, I wanted to go back up the slide into security. Then, my baptism in a Catholic Church when a homeless man in a fez of flopping tassel ran down the aisle of the neo-baroque structure screaming,
“Praise the Lord, the savior is born! Praise the Lord, the savior is born”
Just before they dipped me in the holy water to set my pace.
My outside is mostly like a weathered facade flaking paint. The grains of wood under have torn a page of gray rue from drought dried cracked earth. Baring a bane of existence like a brand ownership to something I may never comprehend let me be plain. I was just a little boy when I first took Christ into my body. I shunned Jesus’ blood because I didn’t like the metallic taste of the goblet it was served in. No one noticed that I smelled my hand after greeting the other parishioners before the “Our Father”.
”Peace be with you.” I’d say, feeling the hearts and sorrow of the people sitting around me.
Old ladies would pull me close and kiss my cheek and I always felt like crying, not because I was afraid, but only sad for our end.
At night I would wipe my tears on the faux wood paneled walls, thumping headaches of impending doom summoned me. I would vomit the sorrow into a worn rusted tub my mother accustomed to setting by my bed. Writhing under torn sheets I would swallow bile hard against the back of my throat wanting morning and the time when the birds were about to sing.
Older, I craved attention. I went on my way to be noticed and found. Never could I look into my eyes in the mirror, only diverted to my chin, or lips or ears. Seeing myself was an abnormality I abhorred while I delighted in remembering. Only a self so.
I almost died when my appendix burst when I was fourteen. I awoke in recovery to a priest hanging over my gurney. He read me my last rites and asked if I had anything to confess. I stared deep into his Irish blue eyes and watched his Adam’s apple dance under the white square of his collar as he swallowed.
”Only that I think I want to live.” I answered.
I looked through him and his eyes darted away and smiled.
Since my dad told me when I was a little boy to always provide a firm handshake and look people in the eye, I have. I didn’t know how important it was until I received a limp shake and a diverted glance. My soul found the strength of a person not in their grip, but the depth of their eyes. It makes some folks uncomfortable, but the few who look back want me to see them. I can feel how their irises burn with mine for the potential of all of us. They see me see.
Sometimes too hot the eye of Heaven shines. It shines in me like a dull glow over the horizon before the sun limps over into day. Just a touch or a look gives me the justice of insight that means nothing to the average bystander, but only miracles for me. I pay attention to the little things, hoping they grow big.