Sunday, April 10, 2005

This is a story I have been telling as comedy, but...

This is a story I have been telling as comedy, but I think it is more tragedy, or maybe mystery. I told it as comedy because I didn't want to think it through. Here's what happened.
I was walking down 4th street on Thursday morning, praying. I don't usually pray as I walk, but I think I was moved to do so on this particular morning. I prayed for my family, our community, this neighborhood, that guy in the Buick, this house, that woman walking away from me, etc. It felt like the right thing to be doing. Then a man waiting at a red light made an obscene gesture toward me with his mouth. I checked to see if I knew him; I didn't. I kept walking. He proceeded to turn in to where I was walking and offer me a sexual favor. I kindly declined, and kept walking. This is another thing that doesn't happen to me every day. It was fairly disconcerting.
I often ruminate about poignant interactions for some time after the event. On this day, I regretted that I did not check on this man. I don't know what I would have said. To hear a price list would have at least satisfied my curiosity. I also would have been interested to know what about me made him think that I was in the market.
Only after a couple of days of living with this story did I realize that I had been distracted from praying. I am not sure why this is important. I do think I needed to pray that morning, but I don't know why. And I don' t know how bad it is to stop praying as a result of an interaction with one of God's children. I don't know if the prayer ended when I became distracted. I am not sure what role discipline plays in praying. The story becomes more mysterious when I think that this man may have been sent too.


Will said...


As a constantly distracted pray-er, I really appreciated your post. Thanks for putting your thoughts out there, bro.

rsm said...


A similar event happened to me on Mill Street some years ago walking to get my car from the garage. It bothered/angered me at the time. I wasn't praying that I remember, but I thought about it for a while.

geoff said...

thanks for this post, ryan. thanks for being open to receiving this encounter as something other (more) than fodder for laughs. i'm currently enjoying literature that is called "magic realism" and i think your story fits that genre. our "man of letters" in residence B.C. Flowers informs me "magic realism" is a blip on the screen of the broader post-modern catagory of literature and yet i'm finding it heavily influencing the way i read the scriptures as well as our life together in community.

ryan k said...

On the topic of whether it is a comedy or not, we saw a movie called Melinda, Melinda, in which Woody Allen tells a story with similar components two different ways. In familiar form, he shrugs at the end and leaves room for the viewer to decide what is real or meaningful. I wanted to note this because I wrote this post about three hours before this movie started--I'm not trying to rip off the Woodman. (Is that too defensive?)