Lonely Shepherd of the Valley

by dschapman

I left my house earlier than usual today. I went and paid my friend to get me high. I drove through the hot summer morning with my windows down, driving a 1998 Honda Civic with no air conditioning. My dad offered to let me drive his air conditioned 2012 Honda Accord but I said, that “I do not deserve it.” He asked me what I meant, and I said, “I just do not deserve it.”

The companies I believed in have failed and yesterday I received a maintenance call from my broker. The color went out of my face and I felt close to passing out. I am a weak man and a helpless man, and I knew what was coming and did nothing to stop it. They liquidated some of my positions for me, and I took care of the rest. I am hanging on by a few thousand dollars. I have finally actually lost it all, in the easiest game in the world. I lost 80% of my money in a historical 5-year bull market.

At night, I turn the air conditioning on, and I lock myself up in my bedroom, in the cold, and I pretend it is the middle of winter, and I listen to the winter music, and I pretend I am not alone, I am just waiting for my girl to come home again. But I do not have a girl. I do not deserve one. I do not deserve anything. I should walk, on my own, through the desert, and just get lost. “Get lost,” I’ll say to me. It is possible to live well and to transcend the basic apathy. Many good men and women have done it, and they have left instructions in their wake. There is not any mystery. The words are there. The path is clear. Time is not on our side, but we do not need time anymore.

Like all helpless people, I have become very spiritual. In began in the immediate wake of my car accident. I did not experience Christ, but I recognized Christ, and I did not disbelieve him. Afterwards it came on very slowly, very certainly. They might say I became religious after I went broke, but I was religious all along. I could have been a hermit, and I could have been a millionaire. I could have been born an heir to a mercantile empire and I could have been born a carpenter alone in a desert, fasting there for forty nights until the spiritual truth became apparent to him.

Tolstoy’s “Gospels in Brief” has been particularly helpful to me lately. The teachings read like perfect philosophy and I am interested and relieved in the answers the prophets all give to their questioning disciples. I agree with everything and it is like actually reading. It is really the only written thing in human history. Everything else is periphery.

“They didn’t all die young. But they didn’t live to be very old, either. And why should they? What else is there? And don’t call them tragic, it’s not that they’re tragic, that’s not it at all.”

“It is nowise possible to prove whether the words that are spoken are from God or not from God. God is a spirit; He cannot be measured, and He cannot be proved. He who shall understand the word of the spirit, by this very thing proves that he is of the spirit.” It is good that I am a Christian man. It is good that I was brought up Christian. I understand the word of God, and I understand it ambiguously. It is the method. It is aesthetics. It is the understanding – honor.

“You consider yourself orthodox, and therefore a small debtor; she considers herself an unbeliever, and therefore a great debtor… He who rests in orthodoxy will not do works of love, but he who considers himself an unbeliever will do works of love. And for works of love, all is forgiven.”

He who considers himself an unbeliever will do works of love. And for works of love, all is forgiven.