At the end of this morning’s Mass our priest gave us a homework assignment. He told us to think about a person who has been an advocate for us. In his sermon, Deacon Bill defined the Advocate, or the Holy Spirit, as a comforter, counselor, friend and companion.
Lots of people have been one or more of those to me, but if I have to choose just one, it’s my friend Laurie. I’ve dumped my troubles on her in the most boring and repetitious ways and she’s given me support when she’d probably just as soon slap some duct tape over my mouth.
The best thing is she’ll listen and do it quick. You don’t get much phone time with Laurie, she’s always busy, so you’ve got to launch right into your whining – get right to the point about what a jerk someone has been so she can (a) agree with you and (b) pile more on, even if she’s never met the person, and (c) give her tidbit of either advice, “the person is a jerk, you gotta just walk away,” or sympathy, “the person has always been a jerk, I don’t know how you stand it.”
Laurie doesn’t like conflict, so she’s not going to present you with an opposing view – she’s never a “devil’s advocate.” Lots of friends will try to gently inform you that you have something to do with your current misery, and if you simply take their advice you’ll live happily ever after. I know Laurie feels that way about my troubles, I’m not stupid, but she doesn’t kick me when I’m down. She doesn’t want to fix me. She just wants to hang out, although one time after being saturated with my repetitious indignities, she did tell me, “Well, Suzanne, you’re no picnic.”
When I got my first humor article published in The Oregonian, Laurie invited me over. She had congratulation balloons, bonbons, and a jar of Nutella on the counter with two spoons. Yes we’re white trash. There were also generous servings of alcohol to celebrate. Some people are jealous of your accomplishments, but she never is, or else she’s a good actress. I’m so shy and insecure (I’m a good actress!), that when I made a video about my projects I sent it to her for an opinion. She called and said, “Oh my gosh, that video is hilarious. You say, ‘and that’s not all, and wait there’s more,” and you say ‘that fish is about frying pan size.’ John and I are still laughing. It’s so funny.” I asked if I should show it to others. “Oh yeah, it’s hilarious. You gotta show it to everybody.” It’s a couple blogs down from this, and no one else thinks it’s funny. Laurie keeps bringing it up every time I talk to her: “Oh my gosh, that video. Too funny!”
Years ago, after I had a stillborn child, and I thought we should have a funeral, Laurie called my friends and asked them to come. One said, “The baby wasn’t even alive, why are they having a funeral? I don’t want to miss work.” I have no doubt that Laurie felt the same way, but she called anyway, and she came to the funeral, because she knew it would comfort me. Funerals are for the living.
So for my homework, I pictured several people who’ve been advocates to me – friends and relatives who have helped me in big and little ways, from the man who pulled off the freeway and changed the flat tire on my rental car, to my neighbor Eric who hobbled down the trail on his newly operated knee to rescue my little dog when I lost her.
So I want to thank all of you, my Mom and Dad, my husband, children, brother, mother-in-law, aunt, cousins, niece, nephew, friends. Wait. This sounds like I’m practicing for an academy award speech. I want to thank all of you who have given me great counsel, been my friend and companion, gone with me on journeys just so I wouldn’t have to go alone, and comforted me in low times and made me laugh. I owe everything to you guys. I can feel the Holy Spirit flowing through you, whether you believe in him or not.