Oh the things that transpire in my presence…
I’ll never fully understand it. Is it a gift? A curse? I’ll enlighten you and let you make the call. Keep in mind these things really all happen to me. And I have no idea why.
You remember the broken toes and the boot, right? Keep that mess in mind.
Friday afternoon I headed home from another exciting work week. I had spent 40+ hours with the most amazing teenagers who allowed me graciously to feed off their natural energy. Together we learned and had fun.
I was teetering on that strange precipice I find myself on from time to time – loving the job I’ve been given but never realizing the respect I think all grown men want to feel for their efforts, however meager, at supporting their families while staying true to your vocation. Hey, it can be tough sometimes. Then you start to feel awful at the realization of how enormous your pride is. If no one ever recognizes me for being the best teacher in the history of teaching (or for just getting my ass out of bed at 5:45 every morning when not many years ago I didn’t know there was a second 5:45); then God sees all and knows all and hopefully I’m not letting him down too much. He knows I’m a screw-up and he still chose me to do this job. Glad His hand is straight because my lines are way crooked. Listen, I got 125 of these kids to stop Snapchatting long enough to understand the basics of sacramental theology this week.
Still it is nice to get a pat on the back once in a while and when I walked in the door I got just that. My kids, the most important people in my life, had planned out a “thank you surprise” for me. A note by the front door in my son’s handwriting said “Daddy, we wanted to say thank you for all the work you do for us so we could have fun things like a trip to Disneyland this summer [past]. Follow the map on the back for your surprise.”
“How nice of them,” I thought.
The map, an incredibly well drawn floorplan of my house, had me go to my room and get changed. This isn’t too hard these days since I’m already in shorts thanks to the boot. Next step was to head to the kitchen for a surprise dinner.
Unfortunately, Mommy wasn’t quite ready with the surprise dinner. That’s because she had only just ordered it. But after a few minutes I was instructed to head to the porch. Not sure why, I took the opportunity to light a smoke and take in the warmth of a Texas September evening.
And then it began. “It” is the strange vortex that whirls into and out of my life depositing bits of crazy in its wake. Occasionally bits of lies and falsehoods are trapped and then exposed as well. A car pulled up and a young man of about 18 stepped up fumbling with a red oven bag. I popped my head back inside. “Honey, did you order pizza?” I asked. She replied in the affirmative. She even told me it had been paid for but that there was a bill by the door for his tip.
By the time I was fully back on the porch the pizza boy was standing in front of me.
“Looks like you’ve got a” – he paused while flipping a fistful of receipts upside down and rightside up again – “large cheese pie, a small, I mean a medium, wait looks like a 10 inch three-cheese blend and another 10 inch with mushrooms and onions.” I was just about to correct him for his lack of an Oxford comma when he interjected “Oh, and an order of cheesy bread.” Only in America could we possibly have come up with “cheesy bread” and not come up with a less descriptive name for it.
“Sounds good, buddy,” I said. “Until two minutes ago I didn’t know I was having pizza so anything’s a bonus.”
I signed my receipt against the pillar supporting my porch roof, took the stack of pizzas, and handed him the paper trail. I was turning to walk back inside when the dim bulb on my front walk blurted something out.
“Can I ask you something?” he asked.
I held my tongue from saying “Just did, dumbass.”
Can I pray for your foot?” he said pointing down at the boot.
“Oh… sure,” I said. “That would be nice.” I said this assuming he would return to his car and offer up a quick Hail Mary and be on his way.
He dropped to both knees right in front of me. Listen pal, I’ve got neighbors and this is an odd position for both of us. But he began to pray.
Staring intently at my foot with both hands hovering over my boot he intoned: “Father, we pray that you would send your healing power to” – he looked up – “what’s your name?”
“Harvey.” Hey, I didn’t know what else to do.
“- for Harvey. We pray that you would bless him and heal his foot, especially all the ligaments and tendons and the muscles and bones. Heal his ankle. Heal his brokenness.”
I was too afraid to take a picture of Pizza Nut so I had Buddy, my Russell Terrier stand in.
This continued for another minute. And then it got weird(er).
Clamping both of his pizza hands firmly on my boot, he began to pulse some kind of bizarre energy into my leg. It was worse than that time I got drunk and watched Charo videos with my sister. His voice took on a crazed tone.
“We command it in Jesus’ name! Heal his ankle! I command it in Jesus’ name! Heal his ankle!”
I have no problem with his prayer at all. I actually thought it was a very kind gesture.
What I did not have was the heart to tell him that it was just two broken toes and they’re getting better. Not a ligament tear or tendon pull in sight and my ankles are great. Also, I have the badass-est calves this side of the Pecos.
I didn’t even know what to say other than “Amen?” He stood up and mumbled something about believing in the power of prayer because he’s a Christian. Again I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that he’s a Christian because he recognizes the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. We stared at each other momentarily before I headed into my house with a stack of pizza and a feeling that my leg had just been exorcised by a Papa John’s pizza boy and that I, may in fact, need to have my confirmation revalidated.
How does one even top that?
What an eventful evening… The rest of the surprise, you ask? The kids had a movie picked out for me. But not even Disney in all its movie magic could top my pizza prayer.
The only thing that could’ve made it gloriously perfect would have been if the order were actually correct.