About a month ago I crumpled up a receipt and threw it away, and then immediately retrieved it from the trash for some inexplicable reason. I didn't know why at the time; I just felt compelled to do so. It was a receipt from Czars Treasures, a store here in Ketchikan that sells a lot of cool Orthodox stuff. Anyway, after examining the receipt, I saw that the name of the girl who was running the register was Maria. She is a stunningly beautiful Russian girl who also happens to be Orthodox. At the time, I thought this might be a sign from God, that somehow this girl would figure into my life. I get a lot of coincidences like this, and most of the time they relate to my life in a way which is meaningful to me.
Yesterday I was at work, as per my usual routine up here. Somewhat early in the day, a girl came into the store and began talking to me. Man, what a talker. She just talked and talked and talked. She told me that she was 19 and a local, born and raised in Ketchikan. She was a veritable wealth of personal information, and for a couple of hours, she followed me around the store like a puppy dog, just talking and talking and talking. I was somewhat uncomfortable at first, having this girl in the store and following me everywhere and telling me everything about herself. After all, I was at work... but it happened to be pretty slow yesterday, so she really didn't interfere with business.
Eventually she began to reveal more and more personal things about herself... about the guys she'd slept with, the drugs she'd done, the things she'd done for drugs (my heart broke for her upon hearing some of these things, which I won't go into), and finally I interrupted her and introduced myself. It just didn't seem right to be hearing all of this without us even knowing each others names. I told her that my name was Elias, and she said her name was Maria.
I didn't think much of this until she began to describe to me how she had been raped, in horrible, vivid detail. During this description she became obviously distressed, and tears came to her eyes. I just didn't know what to say... it was bizarre, unreal, surreal, hearing all of this from this young, pretty girl who I didn't even know. That's when I realized that her name was Maria... the same name on the receipt that I had thrown away and retrieved on impulse.
I talked to her as best as I could. I tried to console her. I gave her the best advice I could think of. I think it was woefully inadequate. Finally, at about 6:00, she hurriedly left the store, saying that she had to meet a friend, and that was the end of that.
Maria will be in my prayers. I hope that, through God, something about our encounter might make a positive difference in her life.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I work next door to a guy named Navi. He's Muslim, and he mentioned today that Ramadan starts on August 11th. I'd heard of Ramadan, but didn't really know what it was about, so I asked him if they fasted during that time. He said that it was a 30 day fast, and that they were only allowed to eat after sunset, basically the same stuff that we eat during Lent... no meat, no dairy, no oil, no alcohol. We talked some more and I described how it sounded a lot like Lent, and then we both got excited and started talking more about it. He told me how Islam and Christianity weren't that much different, and that Islam was kind of an extension of Christianity. He said that although they don't believe that Jesus is actually the Son of God, they do believe that He will come back as He foretold. This was a surprise to me. He then described how there is an entire chapter devoted to Mary and Joseph in the Koran, which coincidentally, is the only part of the Koran that I've read. And this is what interested me... he said that in the Bible, that Jesus said that another prophet would appear, by the name of Ahmud, I think. Something like that, which sounded kind of like Mohommed. This I had never heard of, so I'm interested in finding out if this is actually the case. Then he started thumping a hatstand and said, "This we don't worship. Not totem poles, not wood, not idols. Why would you worship something with no life in it?" This brought up the subject of icons, and I explained how some people think that we as Orthodox Christians are worshiping graven images when we venerate them. By that time I had to get back to the store.