Monthly Archives: May 2013

Prayers for Josimar

I was coming home to Rio de Janeiro after spending a trying, difficult year in the US. I was ill, tired, and disappointed, but happy to be going home.

It was a long flight from Boston—around twelve hours, with a stop in Washington D.C. The overnight flight from D.C. to Rio was around nine hours, so I was very happy to find three empty seats in a row so I could lie down (sort of) and try to rest. It wasn’t restful, and the hours dragged by endlessly, but it was better than sitting up all night.

When I roused myself for breakfast in the morning, my first thought was, “How will I make it through customs?” I was worn out and could barely stand up to go to the bathroom. Plus it was a long, long walk to customs after leaving the plane and I knew I’d never make it. I was feeling a bit rattled, and wondered how I’d bear up if the officer made me open my bags. If I made it to the customs area, that is.

But I had no choice but to drag myself up out of my seat, pull down my carry-on, and slowly walk down the aisle behind the other passengers.wheelchair460_1581784c

As I was exiting the plane, I looked up and my gaze was met by a slender middle-aged man with glasses standing next to a folded wheelchair. He smiled kindly at me and I said, “Could you…?” Yes, he could. I had never even thought of a wheelchair! I’d never used one before in an airport or anywhere else. I thought you had to be really incapacitated before you could use one.

He settled me in the chair with my carryon on my lap and then pushed me and dragged my suitcase so fast I felt like we were flying. We zigzagged between all the people walking towards customs, leaving them in the dust. Before I could catch my breath we had stopped in front of the customs officer, who actually looked quite pleasant, sitting at his table. He asked me if I had bought anything in the USA. I said “no,” and that was it. I was home free!

My sweet chair-driver guided me out to the exit area where I saw my friend Dulce and her favorite taxi driver waiting for me. There were warm greetings all around. I turned to my angel driver and said, “What’s your name?” “Josimar,” he replied. Then I started chatting with my friend, and in my excitement and relief to be home, forgot all about Josimar and that he was probably waiting for a tip. I just kept jabbering away, and the next I knew, he was gone.

To be honest, I really didn’t remember the tip until I was installed in my temporary apartment in Copacabana, and then I felt so bad—I actually felt pain and remorse. After all, Josimar was my guardian angel. He had rescued me from an impossible situation, and I had forgotten to tip him!

Believe it or not, I thought about this for months, and even a year or two later it would occasionally pop into my mind. I thought, “I should have tried to find him. I should have called the airport. Why didn’t I call the airport?”

Why such a fuss over a forgotten tip? I don’t know—there was just something about Josimar.

I’m sure he has long since forgotten the incident, but I never have. And I often include him in my prayers in a whisper of gratitude.

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Aren’t you curious?

When I was a little kid—and I do mean little, I was around four—I wondered about life. I’d look up in the sky and think “where does it end?” I’d think and think and think about that until it drove me nuts. How could something just NEVER END????

I didn’t know about God. I wasn’t raised in a religious family, and we never discussed such existential matters. Life consisted of the practical matters of eating, sleeping, and watching TV.tumblr_m4ges6JBqA1qk59nco1_500

So how did I catch this curiosity bug? Who knows? All I know is that as I grew a littler older I became “curiouser and curiouser” about who I was, what this life was about, and why I was here. I’m sure I heard about God somewhere along the way, and since the idea of a God seemed to have something to do with my incessant craving for answers about life, I joined the Congregational church when I was around 11 years old. I had no idea about religion, really, and knew nothing about the Bible, but they took me in anyway.

But I didn’t last long in church. There weren’t any answers there, as far as I was concerned. And I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my endless questions. The kids I went to school with, although most of them were from churchgoing families, had no curiosity whatsoever about why they existed and what life really meant. They either accepted or ignored the God they had been taught about in Sunday School, and that was it.

So I had to find my own way by searching esoteric books, delving into astrology and mysticism, spiritually-oriented self-help books, and much more, before I finally stumbled on Christian Science and found the answers that satisfied me.

Why was finding out about life so important to me? I don’t know, but I could never seem to understand why it wasn’t just as important to everybody else. I always wanted to ask them, don’t you want to know? Aren’t you curious?

Well, aren’t you?

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Nudity vs. nudism

The other day a Facebook friend posted that she liked to hang out in her jammies, since she works at home. As I read her comment, I realized that I was sitting here in the nude because I was too lazy to get up and take a shower. But then I confessed to myself that I actually like sitting here in the nude. That day it was nice and warm, I live alone, and it’s kind of freeing not to have any clothes on.

Wow, I thought, maybe I’m a perfect candidate for a nudist colony! But as I thought about that, I realized that I’d be a total flop as a nudist. First of all, I’ve always been extremely self-conscious about being seen by others when I’m naked. And second of all, I feel that my clothes are more than something to keep me warm or make me look nice—they’re a protection. nudist

Thinking about that reminded me of a time many years ago, when I was still a kid, and my mother suddenly decided she’d like to try doing her housework in the nude. We lived way out in the country, so there wasn’t any chance of anyone spying on her through a window, and it was a hot summer day. So she took off her clothes and grabbed the vacuum cleaner. I wasn’t paying much attention, because I was out in the yard playing, but when I came back in later on, she had her clothes back on. “What happened, Ma?” “Well,” she said, “I thought it would be fun, but I just felt too exposed—really kind of vulnerable.” I had pictures of her ramming her fanny into the wall or snapping her boobs with the vacuum cleaner cord. “I don’t think I’ll try that again,” she said.

In the sixties I ran into quite a few people who loved running around naked. We were all hippies, of course, and a bunch of us took off for Mexico, where my friends continued to stay in the raw as much as possible. But it just wasn’t for me. I went to a picnic with them once and tried to get with it by stripping to my skin, but I felt so uncomfortable I finally had to put my clothes back on. Then there was the day I went to visit my friend Dennis, and he opened the door buck naked. I gulped. He laughed. OK, I thought, this just isn’t my thing.

Nevertheless, I do like to hang out in my own private apartment with nothing on sometimes (when it’s hot). But you can bet if the doorbell rings I’ll be scrambling for my T-shirt and shorts before I answer it. Although I have to chuckle when I think what the reaction would be if I flung the door open in the altogether with a big smile and said, “Hi!”

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