There once was a very successful man. He had, as Paul Simon put into lyrics, “everything a man could want, power, grace and style.” He lived in a toney suburb of New York, drove a high-end Mercedes and had a beautiful wife and family. On the outside, he was living the dream. But as it has been said, “A roller coast looks flat from a distance.” The man was profoundly troubled and confused. He had achieved more than he ever thought he could. He had exceeded his wildest expectations, so why did he feel miserable? At night when he went to bed and engaged in a quiet and honest moment, he would ask himself, “Is this all there is? Is this what my life is all about?” Sleep evaded him.
As the years passed, nothing changed. His confusion deepened. He went to psychiatrists who prescribed medication and, when that didn’t help, he sought refuge in alcohol. He lived a double life. He was one thing on the outside and something completely different on the inside.
One night while traveling on business, he finished his day’s work, changed into jeans and a T-shirt and headed for the nearest bar. He sat down on a bar stool and hammered down a few martinis as he engaged in a meaningless conversation with a guy sitting next to him. Then, nature called and he went to the men’s room. The bar was not exactly high class. This was evidenced by the fact that the mirror over the bathroom sink was not made of glass, but of poorly polished metal. A muddled reflection in that mirror, however, stopped him in his tracks. He saw a man who was bloated and red-faced, a man he didn’t recognize. He looked again and was shocked when he realized that HE was the man staring back at him from the mirror. At that moment, he passionately hated himself. He wanted to die. After looking at himself in the mirror for a few more minutes, he said to the man in the mirror, “Who are you? I don’t know you.” Then, he went back to the bar, paid his bill and returned to his hotel room.
He went to bed, but this time in that quiet moment prior to drifting off to sleep, he had a hint as to the answer to his previous question: “Is this all there is?” He knew there must be something more, but what? With an unconfused determination, he “sort of” prayed: “My God! I don’t know who I am anymore, but for God’s sake help me to find ME.”
In the silence that followed his “sort of” prayer, a voice whispered to his soul, “You are mine.”
In the words of an ancient song-singer, those three words became “ a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path.”
From one reflection in a mirror and three whispered words, the man saw and perceived, heard and understood. His confusion gave birth to peace.
One thought on “He Slept”
It’S true when one let’S go and let’s God there is Peace! Years ago I drove a parishioner to church as she couldn’t get there otherwise. She gave me those 4 beautiful words and I use them when I need to. The problem is I take back the concern sometimes. Those 4 words and the Serenity prayer keep me going when worries get me.
Love your blog PJ!
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