After dessert, we walked a lap around the gaming floor. Smoke immediately stung my eyes. The slots clanged merrily with promises of riches. A white-haired woman scowled at the spinning dials in front of her, cigarette dangling from her mouth. Three machines down sat a stern-faced man whose girth spilled over the stool, a portable oxygen tank at his side. Row after row of sullen players, frozen to their stations like pillars of salt. What the hell was I doing in there? Why on earth had I asked Ben to take me there for dinner? Here we were supporting a parasitic industry that sucked the life blood from the poor, preying on those who suffered the disease of addiction. I was a hypocrite. And becoming more depressed with every step.
Until, through no effort or desire on my part, my opinions began shaping themselves into kind wishes. I sent out prayers for peace to all the gamblers. Wouldn’t you know it, those victims and addicts were transformed into people—mothers and fathers, sons and daughters––whom I cared about. I don't know how, but the very act of caring lifted my spirits. That was my Christmas miracle.
Light and Shadow