I had a bit of a scare the other day when I was walking home from the train stop. It was dark out at night, it was a bit late, and I was completely alone. Normally, I am okay walking back on my own...but I was terrified that night. I had spent the day worrying about one thing or another, I was stressed out, I was tired, and I was in need of a good cry considering how many things had gone wrong....it was one of those days everyone has every once in a while. Part of my walk home was in a "not-so-nice" area and there was a loud group of people within earshot...somewhere behind me. Perhaps this was my fear-induced anxiety speaking....but these people didn't seem particularly friendly either. I used to watch "America's Most Wanted"...and had seen more than my own share of horrible stories on the news recently, so I started getting scared. I imagined that someone in this loud group of people was going to attack me because they were drunk or because they wanted to rob me. I imagined some serial killer jumping out of the bushes to get me. I imagined all sorts of terrible things happening.
As I type this, I cannot help but feel embarrassed at just how I let such irrational fear get to me. However, as irrational as these fears may seem now...they were quite real then.
The best I could do to ease my fears was pray as I walked on through the dark streets. I prayed all sorts of prayers and, in the end, the prayer that brought me the most comfort was a simple prayer that just popped into my mind. I simply just asked Christ to walk with me. I imagined him walking beside me and keeping all terrible things at bay. I've never been one to do these sort of prayers...the "unofficial ones" the ones that simply involve you talking to God and don't involve a recognized all over the Catholic world "official prayer." I rarely do these "talking" prayers, unless they are coupled with "official prayers" because I am simply not used to simply talking with God.
For some reason, as a young'un, I developed this idea that God was so great, that I was not worthy of talking to Him as I would my family or friends. As a result, I developed this idea that I was not even worthy to pray for myselff. I simply didn't deem myself worthy to pray for myself and so I would pray for others or pray for different circumstances...but never for myself. It seemed too selfish and I seemed too unworthy for it. As a result, I unknowingly distanced myself from God over the years. I mean, I did pray...but it became more of an official duty rather than a conversation of any sort. My relationship with God was no longer a relationship...but some form of routine or duty.
It took me a while to start actually praying in a more personal fashion....with my heart as well as my mind. I still have some issues praying like this, but this experience the other night certainly showed me that I was capable of communicating with Christ on a personal level. As I prayed, I started feeling better. It felt like he was walking with me and it certainly felt like I had his attention. I found peace and though I was unable to shake away all of my fear, I found that the fear remaining was no match for the comfort and protection being given to me by one who was much greater than I. The experience was amazing and I really wish I could convey in words the relief and steadfast faith I felt as I walked. Someone truly was looking out for me....and making their presence known to me. It truly was incredible. I still don't think I deserved this experience....but I certainly needed it at that time.
Fastforward a night or two.
After the experience I just described, I had a dream. I dreamed that I was standing in a desolate place and there was no one else there except for Christ. He was on his way to the crucifixion and he was walking there alone. He wasn't carrying a cross...but he was still walking towards the same uncertainty, violence, anger, and death. And he wanted me to walk with him. He wanted me by his side. At first I was a afraid. I mean, I really wanted to join him and comfort him in any way, but I did not think myself worthy enough to do so. I really did not think I was good enough to deserve his company. In fact I was almost too ashamed to simply be in his presence. I mean, I am not exactly the most worthy person and not exactly the nicest, most generous, most loving heart at times. That, and I have not been to confession in such a long time...making me even less worthy of being with him. Yet, because he had asked me, I felt that I could, somehow be brave enough to walk with him and simply just be there for him. After all, he was the one who was calling me this time and I could see that he needed me. In my dream, I remembered how he had carried me through my walk home the previous night and how he had relieved so many of my fears. Therefore, after hesitating for a moment or so, I finally plucked up the courage to join him. I took his arm and we walked toward uncertainty together. I cannot begin to describe how happy I felt being there for someone who has always been there for me. It's time I get to a confession booth.
Agony in the Garden by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1865