I am not a religious person. Not particularly spiritual either, frankly. I'll admit a mild interest when Deepak Chopra natters on about layers and levels of consciousness, but when people ask me my religious views, I say "askance." I have to admit, though, that the events of the past 72 hours smack of a little deus ex machina.
Sunday: I wake up for Lumberjack breakfast feeling remarkably lucid, considering that the night before I'd had (and thrown up) enough whiskey to drown a hamster. The rest of the day leaks slowly downhill, and I'm pretty wobbly when I go to bed. But I can't fall asleep, because I'm seized with a sense of panic over my clogged nostrils. I'm suddenly overwhelmed with the need to clear them, because otherwise I will suffocate in my sleep. Has this happened to you? I've had a handful of these attacks, which started out of the blue about three years ago, and when they happen there's usually nothing to do but suck down some Rescue Remedy and watch DVDs until I pass out. Which I do, at 4:30am.
Monday: I e-mail work to say I won't be in. ("Sinus. Cough. Phlegm. Me die now.") Picture a gallon of petroleum jelly on a Lazy Susan doing a few hundred RPM; that's my morning. I gulp down another Styrofoam breakfast and head to the doctor, who hands me a scrip for a few Zithro pellets. While I'm waiting at the pharmacy, I pick up some nasal spray, two bags of lozenges, and some Cold and Sinus meds (for which I must sign my name and provide ID; people have bought plutonium with less hassle). My troop surge is ready, and the battle is joined. But for now I'm still in Food Jail, and I make a list of things I'm going to eat as soon as I can taste again.
Tuesday: Community service day at work, and a handful of us go to serve lunch at the Bowery Mission. I'm still blocked, but the phlegm is in retreat after the shock and awe of my medicinal assault, and I am deemed healthy enough to serve. The Mission is a wonderful facility that not only provides food, shelter, showers, and clothes for the homeless, but members in its six-month program can improve their lives through GED classes, computer training, and five daily hours of mass and Bible study. Everyone there knows they'll be OK, because Jesus Christ is shepherding them through the storm. The walls are filled with hand-drawn iconography, and the kitchen blasts nothing but choir-sung hymns on a boom box.
As I help prepare the meal (this is the first soup kitchen I've worked in that actually serves soup), the music reaches out and absorbs us all. Jesus Will Care For You. Glory of His Everlasting Love. Washed in the Blood of the Lamb. (Ew.) Everyone seems quite happy, blessed to be led by Jesus's hand and given a second chance. Right before service, our kitchen steward Harry hears me in a coughing fit (yes, I was away from the food) and says to be patient, for the Lord hears your pain and will heal you when it's time.
Then it's time to serve, and after about 15 minutes of working my ladle I am struck by a strange sensation. Is that ... rosemary? Sage? Sweet Mary Resplendent, is that roasted meat? I stand back, startled, feeling like George Bailey after Clarence gives him back his hearing. I can smell! I can smell! I have been touched by an angel, who has restored my senses and made me whole again! AND AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I'LL NEVER BE ANOSMIC AGAIN!!!
Or maybe it was just the steam from the soup. Hard to say, really.
Tonight: I make Daddy's Pork Chops for the boys. They are moist, and succulent, and I savor every last bite like I'm about to get the chair.
And ten minutes later, TwoBert fills his pants with as macabre a stew as you can fathom. Proof that the sword of salvation is double-edged.