Chapter 3: The Comma

Never place a period where God has placed a comma.Unknown


Kurt woke up the next morning feeling uneasy. He had spent most the day before pondering over his meeting with Gabriel. He wondered if Gabe would return and talk some more. He felt anxious, in both good and bad ways.

He wanted Gabriel to return. Kurt wanted to convey to his long-time friend his experience and knowledge journey toward healing.

At the same time, Kurt hated knowing when Community members judged him for being free. He could always tell; there’s a definite “vibe” from the member. He was sure he must have given off that vibe to others in the past—and he felt ashamed, every time. He hated the ill-will, the stubbornness of the Community members.

“It’s enough to drive you to drink,” he muttered to himself as he reached for the car keys.

Kurt followed his familiar routine of getting coffee, but was venturing into the unfamiliar territory of talking to a Community member more than once every few years. Why was he even worried at all? Maybe he should worry about something more fun and meaningful, like the Red Sox pitching staff. Ugh, they were awful the other night.

But try as he might, Kurt couldn’t relax. Anyone who watched him probably thought he was nervously awaiting a blind date. He kept looking up from whatever he held: his coffee cup, the breakfast sandwich, the paper. He was not calm. He kept playing different scenarios of Gabe returning, Gabe not showing up, Gabe ignoring him, Gabe engaging him. He wondered what happened that day or night, if Gabe mentioned his encounter with Kurt with anyone, with no one, at home, to one of the clergymen, with just one friend, with a group of guys, or with his wife. He wondered what Gabe thought, what Gabe felt. He just wondered.

At one point, Kurt realized he was doing it again: driving himself crazy about things over which he had no control. He remembered the various tidbits of counsel he received from his therapist James, or books he read, or from other friends how had left the Community long before. When he began to think back like this and put himself in someone else’s Community shoes, he would get nervous and fidgety. Of all life upon earth, only humans suffer the physical aspects of stress . . . just by thinking about it.

Kurt also talked with God about it. He thought, God, please help me calm down. I cannot do anything about this, and it frustrates me. So, you do something about it; I can’t. I need your help. I give Gabriel to you, Lord. Please take care of my friend.

He felt himself calm down as he released his anxiety. Thank you, loving Creator. He sent love to Gabe. He blessed Gabriel and surrounded him with love. Then he began to bless everyone in the donut shop. Bless you, sir. Bless you, ma’am. He went around the room. The world is filled with too much judgment. Be the love you want to see in the world. Kurt always felt peaceful when he started to pray God’s blessings on everyone around him.

Gabe waited for Kurt. He read the paper. He finished his breakfast. He read the paper. He finished his coffee. He read the paper. He even started to read the advertisements.

After three hours, Kurt left, disappointed he did not see his old friend. He abhorred the tension, but he missed his friend more.

C’mon, Gabe, come here tomorrow. I promise I won’t bite.

The next morning was gray—so gray that it almost looked like a gray winter’s day. The color fit the mood. Kurt felt despondent.

The car ride was uneventful, although he was slowed down by a school bus. Those wouldn’t be taking up road space soon. They’ll be replaced, unfortunately, by five times as many cars with traffic to spare. Ah, summer on Cape Cod—how he missed it.

Kurt found a spot in the corner after he purchased his morning sustenance. He waited for Gabriel to come through the door, but with a touch of melancholy, assuming that he was only dreaming. While Kurt was more relaxed than the day before, he was also a bit sadder because of the small probability of talking sense to someone in Gabriel’s position. He didn’t want to get his hopes up. Well, that’s not true; there is always hope for everyone in the Community.

In the small donut shop, customers came and went. The skies threatened to pour down rain. The day would go on, as would Kurt. He sighed.

After a few minutes, Kurt sensed someone nearby and looked up from his paper. A woman wanted to steal the other chair, Gabriel’s chair, at the table-for-two. The middle-aged lady had that “antsy” look, as if she would truly steal the chair and run away with it, with two cops running after her. As he suspected, the person came over quickly, bent over slightly, and asked politely, “Would you mind if I use this chair?”

Kurt looked at the pleasant woman with the nut brown hair, gave her a smile, and politely replied—nothing. He stopped mid-breath when he spied Gabriel at the other end of the shop, standing in line. Gabe gave Kurt a tiny head-up nod as if to say, “Yo.”

Without having turned his head to see Gabe, Kurt returned his gaze to the woman’s Irish eyes. “Why yes, actually, I would mind. My friend just arrived and will be joining me.”

A few minutes later, Gabriel walked over to the table, laden with his own breakfast feast. “Morning, Kurt.”

Kurt had a million thoughts and memories racing through his head as Gabe got settled at the table. He was relieved, glad to see his friend return. It was a good sign. Kurt’s mind suddenly became clear, as if the Spirit answered all of Kurt’s hopes and prayers, and a voice said in his head:

“Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

Gabe cocked his head slightly. “What was that?”

Kurt suddenly realized he said it as he thought it. He shook his head ever-so-slightly and smiled at Gabe. He briefly closed his eyes as he replied, “Oh, nothing.”


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