Here’s a taste of a piece I wrote recently for US Catholic:
Back in my days as a college pagan hedonist, I returned to my University of Washington dorm from Thanksgiving dinner with my parents having contracted a ruinous case of food poisoning, probably from our homemade sauerkraut.
I stumbled into my room and pitched forward onto my bed, there to lie motionless while the hours ticked by. At length, the phone rang, and it turned out to be somebody calling from 2nd floor Lander Hall, the dorm building next to mine. I was a bit wary of the folks on that floor because it was the Christian floor, full of born-again types and Jesus praisers while I was, well, not one of these types.
I mumbled something about my fervent wish for the sweet release that only death can bring and then politely bowed out of whatever social event I was being invited to by my friend. Then I hung up and resumed my sufferings.
About 10 minutes later, there was a knock at my door. Shirtless and with the creases in my pillow printed firmly onto my face, I heaved my bulk to the door, only to be surprised by the presence of Sandy, a woman from 2nd floor Lander I did not know from Eve (we would become friends after this), standing there with a kind smile on her face.
“I heard you were sick! I brought you this,” she said cheerily and brandished a bottle of Pepto-Bismol that she had run out and bought for me for no other reason than simple kindness.
I was moved by that act of kindness from a total stranger. I still am to this very day. No, I was not converted to her faith in Christ on the spot. But it was one of the moments in which the millions of rounds of God’s mercy pierced my defensive armor and I started to think about Christians as something besides people whose eyes were set just a little too close together. Pepto-Bismol remains for me a sacramental of the love of God.