Perhaps, if I'd known what the day held, I'd have tightly gripped my blanket and drawn it up over my face and declared, "No, not today. I can't do that. No, not today, not ever."
His six-foot plus height was almost too much for my orange pleather office chair. He slouched to accommodate the inadequate dimensions--his chin slanted toward his chest. I could see the whorl of hair at his crown, light brown curls spilling over his head. He raised his gaze to meet mine, and I noted his eyes glinted topaz. He squinted in anger. "I don't trust you. You're inept at your job. I came here to get help. Do you want me to go out and shoot up heroin? Do you?" I could feel indignation rising in my throat. Taste sourness. I wanted to throw this person out of my office. I wanted to scream at him, "Don't you realize that I'm attempting to go through the channels to get you support?" Of course, he had no idea. And it was then that things changed in my mind. Where transformation occurs. When I was willing to walk and think in an opposite spirit.
"No," I said, "Why no, I don't want you to go out and shoot heroin." I'd already placed calls to medical personnel who had the power to assess what could be done for him. "Can I offer you a glass of water? A coffee?" My voice just above a whisper and as soothing as I could make it. He answered a clipped, "No." We sat in silence waiting for the medical staff. The clock softly ticked, and my sound machine imitated a murmuring ocean, waves breaking on the shoreline. I sensed something overtaking the room. A surge of peace. I noted that the man's fingers unfurled into upraised palms that rested on his thighs, the balls of fists vanishing. It almost seemed an unconscious gesture of worship. He said, his eyes not meeting mine, "I like your pictures." The orange pleather chair my patients sit in faces two pictures of doors, one is closed, the other open. "I like those pictures too." I said. "I believe we have doors in our lives that we choose to close. Others we choose to open." He'd raised his eyes to look at me and nodded. The fight had gone out of him. My vexation and resentment toward him had evaporated as well. We were two people sitting together without malice. No more flotsam between us.
About that time, the medical team arrived. They listened to him and provided care. Merciful professionals. Before the man left my office, he noticed my screensaver. "Who's she?" he asked. He referred to an image of a white-haired woman dressed in leather and armor. A warrior. Her facial expression not fierce, but rather a paradoxical blend of vulnerability and strength. "That's me," I said. "She's my alter ego." Suddenly a smile bloomed across the man's face. I thought he might try to hug me. "I'll see you next week. Thank you. Thank you," he stammered. I was out of line."
Peace won. Grace triumphed. Kingdom weapons beyond the nature of difficult things.