Friday, October 07, 2005


Image by Leo
And the Lord says, Go to Peoria. Give away all you possess and go to Peoria.
He says, If you desire to do my will, if you truly want to be my servants, go to Peoria.
He says, I have a place for you there.
And so what do you do? I suppose – if the word really comes and comes clear enough – you don't have much choice, you have to listen and do what God tells you. You have to divest yourself of every single thing you own, break the news to your friends, your family, mother-in-law, neighbors; turn off the gas and electric, stop the mail, quit your jobs, pull your kids out of school, pack up a van, leave everything and everyone you know and head off to Peoria. You drive all day and night and reach, at long last, the outskirts of town. You cross the town line and pull off by the side of the highway, the fields lying flat and covered with dirty snow. And you wait and pray, pray and wait.
The fact is that I hear commandments all the time – vague and small-voiced – everyone I know hears them. And what, really, is the difference between "Go to Peoria" and "Make the film"? Or "Write the book"? Or "Become a Sumo wrestler"? Or any of the countless passions that guide our days? These are all things my friends expend great amounts of energy working for and dreaming about. And they're all acts of faith, in one way or another, all the urges that carry us through our lives and give us meaning and help us make sense of the accidents that befall us. Maybe I'm not so bothered when I think of it this way, when I think that we have to admit that the best in us is utterly mad, or started out utterly mad, a dim voice urging us on to our own kinds of Peoria.

Are you talking about Peoria, Arizona?

Or Peoria, Illinois?

Because, you know, there's an old saying, "If it doesn't play in Peoria ... " and in that saying, they are referring to the one back East.

And, why are you talking about Peoria in any case?
I got a parking ticket in Peoria, Illinois in 1985 and I never paid the 2$. I guess I felt a mite guilty.

Actually Peoria just sounded good. It's Richard Pryor's hometown, doncha know? It was either Peoria or Altoona, but Altoona sounded too humorous and I'd have gotten lost in some Vaudeville vamp rather than the serious rambling that I came up with.
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