At least that’s what I hypothesized while trying to get him to figure out what he wanted out of life.
"Alexander, say you’ve got a week to live. What are you going do?"
"Um, I’ll get out of here?"
"Yes," I answered and snapped my fingers, "You’re out of prison."
"Well, I guess I’d ask God for forgiveness for my sins."
"Done and done. You’re already forgiven. Don’t waste any time asking for forgiveness. It’s already been done, and your life was given back to you. You’ve got a week left. What do you do?"
Alexander looked at me like I had just said the most ridiculous thing ever. Look, he seemed to say, you tell me I have a week left, I tell you I want to be on my knees asking forgiveness for my sins – the best possible answer, mind you, and you throw it back in my face. What kind of chaplain are you anyway?
I’m the kind of chaplain who thinks that living on your knees is a waste, and besides it’s hard on your knees. It’s a sin against your knees, and God doesn’t want that.
Alexander considered his fate for a moment.
"Um, I guess I’d be with my mother and father. They’ve been so good to me. I’d spend my last week with them."
"Ah, so with your last week of life on this earth, you’d be seeking more than love – you’d be seeking to love. You wouldn’t be looking for amor, you’d be seeking to amar. Amen I say to you, brother."
We talked about other things for a while. Alexander likes boxing and Burger King bacon double hamburgers. In fact, he loves them so much he has his parents sneak them to him during visitation. I got a real kick out of that. We chatted about a fight he got into recently. Some older bigger kid poured shampoo on his cot and threw his clothes in the toilet. Just like high school, I remarked. Alexander got up in the guy’s face and got a couple of good licks in before the guards broke it up. Alexander said it didn’t matter anyway, because as he recounted to me with pride, he was already going to the maximum security facility.
"So, let’s return to the question: What do you want out of life? What about if I gave you 80 years. What would you do with your life? I give you a million dollars and 80 years. What’s next."
"Well, I um, I don’t know."
"Let’s just say that it’s okay to buy bling, a nice house, have a beautiful girlfriend, a great music system, lots of parties, a pool, and beautiful view. You can get all that in a month. By my calculation, that leaves 79 years 11 month. Now what’s next."
"I dunno, enjoy myself, pasarlo todo tranquilo."
"Alexander, how come when you have a week left you’ve got a clear idea of what you should be doing, but I give you 80 and you squander it?"
I reflect this week how easy it is to become a glutton. Give me more of it, I say, I want to live longer, better, and with more things. Do I realize what it’s for?
I ask you, who stuff your faces at the banquet, for what do you want it?
Figure it out before you come back for seconds, please.