by Carlos Rios
I’m walking home from another long day at work. It’s dreary out; the sky is a cool shade of gray that offers very little hope. The wind whips against my face and light rain begins to brush on my cheeks. The scene is, at best, desolate. I’m exhausted and anxious about my finances. After a quick check of my bank balance I cringe. What am I going to do? I feel helpless, powerless, and scared. I stop to take a moment and breathe deeply. I begin to pray: “(breathe in) The Lord is my Shepherd, (breathe out) I shall not want.” I repeat this mantra over and over as I walk to the local grocer and purchase an ingredient for tonight’s dinner. I feel it seep into my body. My situation has not changed, but my outlook has. On the way home I receive two e-mails, each one offering hope for a better day.
I run frantically in the direction of the bus stop. I thought I had two minutes left, according to the bus tracker. Apparently two minutes really means about 30 seconds. After a mad dash I am fortunate enough to catch the bus: I exhale. After paying my fare I walk towards the same section of the bus that I always sit at, but find myself stopping just short. An old friend is sitting on the bus with a grin from ear to ear. I sit with him and we catch up, share stories both bad and good, and promise to call each other soon. I pray and thank God that this person was such a blessing in my morning and in my life. I ask that God would bless him. I continue my morning with an unanticipated amount of joy.
A friend and I are seated at a bar, well-earned martinis in hand. He looks tired, stressed, and anxious. I ask him if he’s okay. He responds that work has been practically unbearable these last few days—he hasn’t slept in about two days. My face makes a visual groan (I’ve never been good at hiding the emotion in my face). I ask if everything else is okay with him. He tells me that due to no fault of his own, his visa may not be renewed in time. Without it he will be unable to continue working and worries about how he is going to pay his rent and bills without the ability to work. He worries about facing possible deportation. He is angry about a system that is slow and faulty. I hurt with him. I send up a flash prayer at that moment: “God, make what seems impossible become possible for my friend.” I hope and I continue to pray that his situation is resolved quickly. I pray against and lament over a system that is broken.
I sit and stare at my computer screen with what feels like little to write about. The week has been tough. For the first time in a long time I feel like I am in the wilderness. And then I get it. I am indeed in the wilderness. This is a journey and sometimes the road gets rocky, the conditions aren’t always favorable, and often we are beyond the signal of a cell phone or a GPS. It’s scary, but I know I am not alone. I keep walking, I keep breathing, and I keep praying. I know that I will reach my destination if I keep along this path—I must learn to keep hope and faith alive. I know that if I keep my focus on God, I will make it out of the woods. Until then, I will look at portraits from my journey to ground me, inspire me, humble me, and keep me moving.