I felt alone today. I felt very small, very vulnerable and absolutely isolated for much of the day.
Covering trials can be that way. Your world shrinks down to just one room, maybe a hallway and the bathrooms. My schedule becomes whatever the judge says it is. I stand when they say stand, I sit when they say sit and I come back when they say it’s time to start. Throughout the day, my world got even smaller: it shrunk to the witness stand, the pictures, the words on my notepad.
And it’s my job to absorb it all: the way the youngest witness flipped the toy around with his hand because he was so nervous, seeing those who normally have no visible problems with such cases become sad, hearing the change in the voice during the testimony. I bring it all back with me to the newsroom, sort through and try to figure out what you need to know and what you don’t. But it doesn’t really clean off your soul so well when it’s time to go home. So I wander around the city like a zombie looking for dinner, trying not to snap at the clerk and buying more beer at the Cap & Cork. Days like this make me feel very exposed, like I’m somewhere I don’t belong. Weird, huh? (BTW, tonight’s writing juice: Buffalo Trace)
One of the nicest things that happened today was a text from my priest, just to let me know he prayed for me today. It was like this cool little thing, to know that someone had my back spiritually. This particular case is odd in the spiritual category, and is weighing on everyone in that room in that way, I can tell.
It’s dangerous to be out there on your own. At least it is for me. I always want someone to know where I’m at, where I’m going and if I got there — physically, geographically, emotionally and spiritually. I need a priest. I need someone who is willing to take on the responsibility of me, and let me tell you, it’s a special responsibility. I needed a spiritual father, and not just because the physical one wasn’t all that hot.
I don’t trust myself. I know that I wander off too easily. I chase the ball into the weeds of my anger and get lost out there.
Fr. Andrew hears my confessions. He knows where I struggle, where I hurt. He stands there, not between me and Christ, but beside me, with his stole on my head. And he prays.