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My Only Comfort

Walking through the cold, blustery wind, a figure in a black trenchcoat, perhaps a young man, heads toward a glass door. As he enters, he looks up the well kept wooden stairs. Barely paying attention to the soft playing sound of a bass guitar and trumpet, he begins to walk up the stairs. He enters the small, but cozy atmosphere of a cafe. The wooden tables and the roughly painted floor blend with the white plaster walls and daisies in their vases. He walks up to the stained oak counter and pulls off his trenchcoat. As he puts it over his arm, he leans over the counter and asks the cashier for a large coffee. Standing there for a second, he reaches into his pocket and grabs some change. Giving it to the cashier, he takes his coffee and walks to a table next to the wall with a window on the right hand side. In his motion to sit down, he observes all the people walking down the street, each of them doing his own thing and going to different places. Still staring out the window in some sort of trance, he absentmindedly reaches for the sugar and begins to pour some into his coffee. Suddenly realizing what he is doing he stops pouring the sugar and picks up his spoon. Stirring, he looks at the oak table and notices now smooth and worn it is. He reaches into an inner pocket of his trenchcoat and pulls out a wad of folded paper. Opening the paper and smoothing it out, he pulls a pencil out of his pant leg pocket.

“Now, where was I?” Dave thought to himself. “I can’t seem to think straight. I can’t believe I have writer’s block right now.” After writing a couple of novels and too many short stories to count, Dave knew that he would have times when nothing would come out of his head. Then there were times he had so many ideas he couldn’t keep track of them all. He also knew where he could get his ideas to flow. He found this cafe one evening when he and his wife had been taking a walk down the street, enjoying the weather. Because he only lived a few blocks away and his wife was out visiting a sick friend, Dave decided to think and brainstorm in a different place rather than stay at home all alone.

The thoughts that penetrated his head right now were of a personal nature and did not deal with what he wanted to write about. His thoughts were about his wife and him and their concern about not being able to have children. They had been married for two years, and through that time he had finished a novel and submitted a few short stories to different publishers. Although the novel was not a bestseller, it was still a competitor even after having been on the shelf for a year. He had managed to get enough money to support both him and his wife, and still pay for a house that they could call their own. Having written his first novel when he was still at home and going to the university, Dave paid for school with the royalties. His full time job included working around the house and trying to write anything worth getting published. Yet more than anything, he wished with his wife that they could have a child. Dave also recognized that it was all in the Lord’s hands. However, that feeling of wanting to control the situation was so prominent that it took everything in him to control it. Daily, he and Mary prayed that God would answer their prayer, and every day they took comfort in the fact that God alone was taking care of their lives. It was especially on Sundays that they yearned to hear that spoken Word and to take it in as food for their souls.

“I really enjoyed and am thankful for last Sunday’s sermon on the abundance of God’s mercy,” Dave thought to himself. “Sometimes I wonder how much we take that mercy for granted.” Looking out into the street, he began to think about the people out there in the world who seem to benefit so much. He thought, “it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the cares and concerns that face us in our daily lives.”

“I really should get writing. Too much of this thinking, and I won’t be able to ever write again.”

For some unknown reason, the cashier came up to Dave. He raised an inquiring eyebrow in her direction. “I’m sorry for interrupting,” she said, “but it’s just that I couldn’t help but see the troubled look on your face. I was just wondering if you would like another cup of coffee?”

Dave looked at his cup and noticed that during the exchange of inner thoughts, he had finished his coffee a long while ago. “Don’t worry, this one’s on the house,” she said. Dave wasn’t really worried about that. No, what bothered him more was the fact that these thoughts plagued him in such a manner as this. “Uh, thanks,” said Dave still a little bewildered. She looked at him and said, “I’ll be leaving you now. Sorry again, I just thought that you needed a break from whatever you were thinking. By the way, my name’s Joanne. If you need anything else, I’ll be right over there,” she said pointing to the comer of the cafe by the counter. She poured him a coffee, and then began walking back to a chair at a table with a miniature backgammon game laid out. As she was walking away, Dave managed to say “Hey Joanne! Thanks, uh…thanks for the coffee.” She looked back, smiled at him, and said, “Really it’s no problem.”

Dave settled a little more into the chair and said to himself, “A break in my thoughts, that’s almost an understatement. Okay, now I have to concentrate. This is getting a little out of hand.”

A half an hour went by and the paper that sat before him was still blank. The coffee that Joanne had given him had been finished a long time ago. Dave caught himself staring out the window. He noticed that the wind had died down, and there was a quiet rain falling down into the streets. “I can’t believe this. What’s wrong with me? This has never happened to me before. Usually my blocks only last a little while. This is too much. I wonder what Joanne is doing?”

He glanced up at Joanne. He saw her alone, sitting at the table playing the backgammon game. Dave got up from his chair and walked slowly over to her. Joanne moved her intent gaze from the game to him, and she looked as though she was already anticipating what he was going to say.

“Hey Joanne, would you mind if we talked a bit?” Dave asked. “What’s the matter?” she said. “Can’t get those writing juices flowing? Sure, I don’t mind. It’s not as though I was doing anything important,” said Joanne with a small grin on her face. “Don’t worry. I’ve seen a lot of writers come and go through here. They’ve all suffered from a shutdown on imagination, just like you have right now. It’ll pass.”

“What do you want to talk about?” Joanne asked Dave with an inquisitive look on her face. “I, was just…wondering…” Dave began to ask, “How do you deal with problems in your life, or about things that worry you?”

“Interesting question you have asked. Well, generally I try to find something that will make me relax or feel better. I try to read or have a glass of wine. If all else fails, then I just try to forget about my problems. You know, I just occupy my mind with something else or with someone else,” said Joanne with a laugh in her voice. “Why do you ask?” she asked as she looked at him.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just wonder how people react to their problems. It seems kind of interesting. Don’t you think so?” Dave asked.

“I never really gave it much thought before to tell you the truth,” Joanne said, “Sorry.”

“Oh, that’s okay. There are just a few things that I have a resolve in my heart.” said Dave.

Dave walked back to his table and sat down. He thought, “That’s kind of funny. I never thought about it before, but I think that I let my writing try to take the place of my problems. Just as Joanne allows her problems to be replaced or forgotten by things that make her feel good about herself; I have a tendency to escape into my writing so that my problems don’t seem so bad. My relationship with my God and Father should be the place that I turn to. I’ve always been taught that God is there for me all the time.”

“I should turn to God before I turn to anything else. Maybe the Lord is trying to show me something by the fact that I can’t write,” Dave perused.

Turning his head towards the window, he looked out for a moment and then closed his eyes. Bowing his head, he prayed softly to God, asking for both forgiveness in his lack of faith and strength in all of his daily struggles. He prayed that God would allow Mary and him to have a child, but only as long as the Lord willed it to be that way. Closing his prayer in thankfulness for God and his everlasting mercy, he opened his eyes and meditated softly on what he had learned.

“I know something now that I cannot forget and that I can share with Mary. My God is truly great; he teaches me daily,” Dave thought. “I should go and see if Mary is home because I want to talk to her about what I’ve been allowed to see. The writing will wait till tomorrow.”

As Dave got up to go he said, “Joanne! Thanks for answering my question. It helped me a lot.” Joanne looked up and said, “Oh, you can write now?” While putting on his trenchcoat Dave answered, “No, but I’ve learned something amazing.” He took the blank sheets of paper, and the pencil and stuffed them both in his pocket. Just as he was going to go down the stairs, Joanne called after him, “What did you learn!?” Dave stopped, and looking down the stairs said, “An amazing way in which I can relieve myself of worries and problems. I’ll have to tell you about it.” Joanne looked after him in curiosity and confusion as he stepped into the stairwell. “I’ll be back to have a coffee sometime soon, and to write. Don’t worry. Thanks,” he said with a grin on his face.

Stepping out into the light rain from the doorway, Dave walked down the street with a comfort that he had never felt or known before. Even now, more than before, Dave wanted to know his God and learn about Him. Walking through the rain and the coming evening, his heart and soul were warm, and the warmth did not fade, in contrast to the surroundings about him. ♦