posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 02:13 AM
I suppose I have the devil to thank. He's probably not the most likely candidate for an old-fashioned, post-marked, lick-the-envelope,
delivered-by-the-post-man thank you card. But if Hell had a street address recognized by the U.S. Postal service, you can bet your bottom dollar
Lucifer would get one. From me.
My gratitude to Satan is odd. Odd in many ways, I guess. For one, I am a Catholic priest, and have been for the last half of a century. And for
another, most people, except maybe for his worshippers themselves, would never thank the devil for anything—even if he were to hold the door open
for them on a blustery winter day.
I'm a man of the Lord, though that hasn't always been the case. I grew up in the church. Not the Catholic Church, per se, but an Evangelical church
where my father doubled as my pastor. It was always assumed from a young age that I, too, would become a pastor at the church. The youngest pastor Ely
has ever seen, my father would say. However this fantasy of his - I suppose fantasy is a fitting word - was never meant to be fulfilled. I know that
now because the Lord always had a different plan for me.
When I was a senior in high school I had an epiphany. This was the kind of epiphany that comes like a heavyweight's punch from your blindside and
completely rattles your world. I didn't believe in the boogeyman, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny nor fairytales. The reason? Well,
there was no substantial evidence to any of these "stories." If no substantiation makes people disbelieve in these things, why then would people
believe in a supreme being? All of these stories are designed to get children to mind their P's and Q's.
That's when it donned on me; the bible is a collection of fairy tales and God is the Santa Claus of the Great North Pole in the sky. And where did
that leave Mary? I guess I always supposed she was the head elf, in charge of all the elves (saints).
Before going off to college - where I’d decided I'd study Evolutionary Biology - I had to have the painful talk with my father in which I’d told
him I wouldn't be taking over in his stead. I can still, to this day, see the hurt in his eyes. Such a disappointment I must've been to him. And the
worst part; he never got to see me recapture my faith. Even though I didn't end up taking over his parish that he had spent so many years building,
I'm sure he's watching me from Heaven, proud that I've returned to the flock.
College was a bad time for me. Looking back on it, I regret those drunken
nights and one night stands that occurred far too often. At the time, though, I was living high on the hog, "banging every piece of ass" I could
find, as we used to say. Though I have done my penance, I still hold a solemn remorse in my heart about those days. I suppose I'll live with that
until the Lord brings me home.
The one good thing that did come from college was during my junior year. I suppose it was bittersweet at the time. But looking back I know it was all
part of the Lord's plan.
One bitterly cold winter day at the coffee shop on campus as I was delving into my first brush with one Charles Darwin, reading his well-renowned book
"The Origin of Species", when she walked in. Golden blonde hair with a bronze glow mostly reserved for girls from the sunny state. She was a
knockout. Even though I had already gotten my coffee, I went back up and bought a pastry just hoping I could find a way to strike up a conversation
with her. Sure enough, I was able to charm her into getting lunch with me sometime and as fate would have it (or so at the time I believed), she
agreed. During that first brief conversation I had with her, fate threw me another bone - she too was an evolutionary biology major. Though I never
admitted it to anyone, not even her, I believed we were supposed to get married. Even from that very brief, first meeting.
After our first date, for which I was very nervous because not only did she have the looks of a model, but she also had the brains of a Ph.D. the rest
was history, as they say. She was, in essence, the total package. A real gift from the Universe. We spent many days that winter holed up in my dorm or
hers’ studying away and building a bond on not only lust, but also of a commonality that I don't believe many people can ever find. By spring, our
love had blossomed with the roses into a full, beautiful bloom.
Just as the seasons change and those roses die, so do many relationships. When fall came back around, I knew it wasn't the same, but we tried to make
it work, like a doctor who knows in his heart of hearts he has lost a patient, but refuses to give up. We had too much time apart, or so I felt. I
went back to Ely, and she flew back home to North Dakota. We only got to see each other a handful of times that summer, because we were both busy
working and spending time with our families. I never dreamt that one summer apart could cause such a strong connection to become weak and frazzled
like an analog T.V. whose reception is full of static, but then again, what do I know?
Things finally got worse right before Christmas break, and she broke up with me. She said things weren't the way they were and it hurt her not to be
able to be fully committed to me. She also decided it was high time to tell me she had met someone else back home. An investment banker named Jeff,
presumably worth millions based off her flashy new wardrobe and designer purses she carried-- things she never seemed to show any interest in before.
I suppose her lack of
interest wasn't so much a genuine lack of interest, but more of a lack of access. Her family wasn't very rich and even though I tried to buy her
nice things, I couldn't compete with what Jeff was able to give. But our relationship wasn't the only thing that was broken, my heart was too. She
was the first girl I had ever loved and expected to marry. To have such a rock taken from your life is really rather odd. Even when my mother left me
and my dad I didn't feel the complete and thorough aching in my heart the way I did when I watched her leave my dorm room that night.
When Christmas break came I decided I'd spend it alone at my dad's cabin just north of Ely to do some ice fishing. I figured I'd take the break to
brood in my own self-pity and sorrow and wash it down with a few cases of beer for good measure. I had also decided I would leave the "poor me"
bull# routine at the cabin. I was determined to go back to school as a rejuvenated undergrad ready to unlock the safe Darwin had only just put the key
into. I was pissed at the world, I was pissed at Sarah, and most of all I was pissed at the non-existent God The vastness of the universe and the
sound logic behind evolution were strikes 1 and 2 against him, and Sarah was most definitely strike three. He was out, and I was the umpire that
called him looking at the third strike. While I didn't realize it at the time, this week alone was going to be another epiphany. Another blindsided
punch that would rattle my world.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The headlights lit up the small cabin and I could see that there were no lights on, this wasn't surprising. My dad almost never came up to this cabin
since my mom left, and he wasn't a big fan of ice fishing anyway, so he normally stayed in Ely in the winters.
I turned off the car and grabbed my duffle bag and tackle box out of the trunk of my Chevy Malibu and headed for the front door. I fumbled for my keys