And so it came to pass that he who shall at some point refer to himself in this post as “I” arrived at the hospital to bring his wife and two-day-old son home.
And being of a cheerful humor that morning, this man decided to leave his side bag (with books in it) in the car, since, he reckoned, signing the discharge papers and getting various belongings back into the car would leave no time for that ancient pastime he used to love, called reading.
And then it came to pass that the original time for discharge got pushed past noon, and there was nothing to read, and it then came to pass a little later that the new shift nurse entered to announce that, for the first time in her six years of experience at that hospital, all the computers were down, so we could not be discharged until they were operational again.
And so it came to pass that this glum man lay on the spare bed, watching dimly heard episodes of “Street Outlaws”, with his favored reading materials ensconced hundreds of yards away in the car.
And so it came to pass that the merry band of Bougises grew hungry, whereupon this mensch took his daughter to the nearest convenient store to buy snacks and drinks. And it further came to pass that just as he squatted down to share a moment of snacks and chatter with his darling girl, the man received a text message that his wife had just signed the discharge papers and it was time to go.
And so the man and the little darling plodded back to the labor and delivery ward, whereupon the man clutched as many bags as he could, secured the first son in the stroller, and led the little darling back downstairs to the car.
It was actually a bit hot today. In winter. In Florida.
And so it came to pass that he got the kids locked into their little pilot seats (shades of “Street Outlaws”!) and drove to the parking booth to exit, having been assured that his wife’s discharge papers and official ward wristband would get him past the gate without having to pay.
But then, O tender reader, it came to pass that the man was greeted by the parking booth attendant’s Cheshire-cat smile as the form of reason evaporated around her like some mirage in the desert of already too-long day.
“Well, I’ll go walk over and get the papers myself and bring them back,” he vowed to the Cheshire cantor.
And so it came to pass that the harried little man popped his car into reverse and almost immediately heard a skkrrrunchhing of a plastic bumper against his right rear wheel.
And there was much cursing in two vehicles.
And then the lawful exchange of information.
And then the arrival of a police officer to file a traffic report (which the officer did intentionally to spare the hobbled man “a ticket”, seeing as the incident was such a minor accident!
(Meanwhile, the darling girl was dead asleep while the boy was polishing off almost an entire bag of kettle-fried chips that weren’t really noticed until everyone, finally, got home.))
And then the obvious mulling over how and when to apologize to the parking booth attendant.
And then the decision to wait as close as possible to the entrance where his wife and son would emerge, on a stakeout, since he couldn’t leave the parking lot without paying or just bucking over the curb.
And so it came to pass that he got a hold of the discharge papers, slowly made his way to the parking booth again, apologized to a woman he’s not even sure was the original attendant (because shift change?), and looped around a half block to pick up his wife and the littlest boy.
And so they one and all made it home, whereupon the man filed the incident report online and decided to bore his devoted reader with this very post.
+ + +
But enough of that silliness.
Yes, today was a very trying day. A profoundly Lenten day. A day when I was faced with my own boredom, anger, shame, duty, hope–and that portion of grace which somehow keeps animating my soul forward.
One thing I failed to mention in my last post is that, around mid-February, I finally settled on a name for my second son: Gregory Arthur Bougis.
Does it make a little more sense now why the whole Gregory of Narek thing had/has me so transfixed?
That’s right. A mere week or two after finally settling on a name for my newest son, I am informed that he shares the name with a new Doctor of the Church, whose sanctity trumps the trifling issue of his historical schism.
Moreover, March 8 this year will mark the Eastern Orthodox commemoration of Gregory of Palamas, who might as well be elevated to Doctorhood next month or so, the way things are going.
The point is, despite how profoundly conflicted I am about the elevation of a dearly beloved schismatic to a model for the universal Church, I am giving this Gregory a fair shake.
A friend recently teased me about giving Gregory air time in a tweet,* but I am sincere: Roma locuta est; Gregory is, for better or worse, officially a Doctor of the Church; so I am trying my best to submit to my superiors and give him a hearing.(If nothing else, I better pencil him in before the next half dozen or so Doctors get elevated by next Wednesday!) I have bought two copies of his famous books–“Narek”–and am reading two small books about him and the Armenian Church these days.
As Hachatoor Hachatoorian’s introduction to the above photographed volume (I got my copy for $48, before the inevitable rush) notes:
“Throughout the centuries this book enjoyed a reputation of a universal healer. It has been believed that a person will be cured of illnesses by its mere possession. This quality of the book is many times mentioned by the author. The book is an extremely powerful proof of God’s existence, the mere acquaintance with its contents will convert thousands of people into genuine faith and repentance.” (pp. 7-8)
I should be good, then.
After all, what do I know?
Lent is all about denying one’s self, right?
So I continue to deny.
The good news this year is that, ultimately, union with Rome is optional, at best.