Taxi horns blasted as if they could speed up traffic with noise as we bumped along the congested Throgs Neck Bridge...but cold silence grew inside our car. What did I expect my parents to say after spouting my “mature” nineteen-year-old college student view on life?
“I’m not going to church ever again. It’d be hypocritical…I’m not sure what I believe.” My hard words could have shattered the windshield.
I guess that’s not what Catholic parents want to hear their college daughter say on her way home for Christmas break. Dad stared at the road with the intensity of a brain surgeon. Mom gazed at the hazy city skyline diminishing as we headed to Long Island…or at least that’s where her eyes looked focused. Was she hoping I would revert back to the innocent Sarah as pine trees replaced skyscrapers?
To them, the change was sudden, but since I started art college the year before, my heart began hardening, one semester at a time. New friends and new influences – my closest friend was a witch, not the cartoon version with a broom, but a serious spell-practicing witch. Jaden claimed to practice only white witchcraft. WHAT A RELIEF! That would’ve been comforting to my parents. But I was intrigued by everything about my friend, from her creative talent to her unusual style. She dressed in clothes reminiscent of the nineteenth century and died her long hair colors like flaming orange, magenta, or Marilyn Monroe blond. She attracted attention. The closer we became, the harder my heart grew toward God. I wanted to follow my own map, but I ended up borrowing Jaden’s.
She showed me where to shop for the best bargains in weird clothes, fuchsia hair color, and all things new age. We hung out downtown in lovely places like the voodoo store, a shop dimly lit with a thousand candles and black crosses. Even without the Holy Spirit, I could sense a heavy darkness…but I felt drawn to having a new, artsy image.
Jaden taught me what she believed: all nature had a spirit…a god for the sun, moon, and stars, a god for the flowers, a god for the rocks. I found that strange, but I liked listening to her; it was like reading a fantasy novel, and I was hooked.
Didn’t I see the neon sign flashing in my head: BEWARE – WRONG WAY!
No, depression is blinding. All I wanted was to be happy, to find myself, and be noticed.
Did I hope an interesting friend would paint my life a different color? Why couldn’t happiness be as easy as a game of Rock, paper, scissors? Could I write my life on paper, cut it up, and start over? Or would I still lose because my heart felt like a boulder? I wished Jaden’s spells would work…but I was afraid to ask her to try. I could end up a happy toad.
At this point, my heart was nearly covered with Jaden’s black-speckled tiles. Each negative thought I had, cemented another tile in place. By October, I was ready to accept Jaden’s invitation to her coven for a Halloween party, a “real holiday for us” as she called it. No, I wasn’t about to sign up for coven classes, but I was opening a dangerous door in my life. Thankfully, God slammed that one shut. The day before I was going to tell my friend that I was excited to come to the party, Dad called to ask a favor.
“Would you mind taking Hilda’s nephew for a tour of the city while he’s visiting from Germany?”
“On Halloween…he’d like to see the costume parade and the Empire State Building.”
Of course. I’d love to miss a party and run around the city to places I’ve already seen with a guy named Reinhold who only speaks German.
I couldn’t say no to Dad…so that was the end of my coven party.
As my heart solidified with sadness, God waited for the right time to begin the sanding process. He gave me a Christian roommate who prayed for me. After my Christmas declaration of heathenism, I spent winter break at the dorm with my roommate. We became better friends. Her love and obedience to the Lord was the sandpaper I needed to rub off the stone that settled in my heart. Each word of God’s truth removed another tile until my heart was soft and pliable again…ready for the Master Potter.
True. Names were changed.
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