Don’t Mess With The Nurse!

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Southern California. A sunny afternoon.

A tiny life ring bobbed at the far end of the pool, where a cluster of children splashed and played.

A group of friends relaxed, conversing at the other end of the pool, enjoying the weekend.

Except for one. My wife was carefully surveying the children.

And the empty life ring.

The one our toddler son, occupied moments earlier.

She rose suddenly.

The world shifts in those seconds.

Jared wasn’t among the group of children.

So, oxygen deficiency? Genetic damage? Hard to say. But our son Jared is not like others.

Personally, I lean toward the genetics angle.

My paternal grandfather was the craziest, funniest, over-the-top man I’ve ever known.

Grandpa was a small pugilistic drunk. He stumbled over grace one day, and discovered a God who loved him unconditionally. He was never the same.

It did nothing, however, to allay his crazy, merciless sense of humor.

Growing up I was pretty crazy. Always blamed it on my genes.

Now, with our middle-aged son Jared, though, it seems there’s always more. More to come. It might even be exacerbating.

At least he found the perfect niche for his personality. He’s a special ed high school teacher. History.

He works tirelessly ensuring his students think critically. It’s important for them to fully understand all Native Americans were evil (Republicans, too. And that Democrats are essentially immoral). That the Negro slave was essential. And the industrial revolution built on the back of children was necessary for the construction of the American Dream.

He understands such important education has to be doled out in baby steps. So he entertains his classes, choreographing mass tennis ball attacks on his young aide when she enters the classroom. Stealing and hiding the principal’s golf cart. Which is usually then abandoned and parked tight against another old retired-in-place teacher’s door, blocking him in his room. Or, he gets the ladies in the office laughing, because, since he was a child, he’s always waited until it’s almost too late. So he calls the office and tells them he needs a temporary substitute immediately. So he can use the restroom. Like right now. Hurry. Because he’s ‘pushing cotton’, or ‘prairie doggin’, and he can’t leave his class unattended. (Imagination not required.)

Antics don’t always end the way planned however.

The other day he and a couple of his students were walking back to class. Carrying tons of books. At least a small library. (I think he said most were about the benevolence of Corporate America.) Jared was carrying an armful of them along with some papers and balancing his morning cup of coffee on top. Approaching a friend’s classroom in session, Jared told his students to turn around and walk backwards in exaggerated slow motion past the open door of her class. Her back was to the door. It took her a while to figure out why her students were snickering.

Walking backward has its hazards.

Jared didn’t realize his students had stopped. He tripped. Fell backward. Books and papers went airborne. He ended up lying in front of the open doorway; books, scattered papers, and clothes bathed in fresh coffee. Students laughing. Teacher confused.

One of my grandfather’s favorite gigs, honed to perfection, was harassing door to door salesmen. This breed of nuisance peddlers aren’t as common now a days as they were back then. Back then we had a plethora of encyclopedia, cleaning product, and Fuller Brush peddlers, to name but a few.

Grandpa worked nights in an oilfield and was home during daytime. Dollar signs must have lit up when they saw this smiling gentlemen open the door and magnanimously gesture them inside. Grandma must have watched this time and again. Told me she’d watch from the kitchen as the salesmen set up their displays on the coffee table and launched into their sales spiels.

The one she particularly enjoyed was an encyclopedia salesman. This guy had an elaborate folding display. Which he proudly set up on the coffee table. At some point during his well-practiced, long-winded presentation, he triggered on the fact grandpa had not yet done much more than grunt and smile encouragingly.

When finally pressed for a coherent response, grandpa cupped his ear, leaned forward and grunted unintelligibly.

Grandma said she’d never seen a salesman exit so quickly, angrily slamming his display closed and snatching up his brochures. He’d just wasted half an hour on a deaf mute.

If grandpa had the gift, he passed it along in spades to his great grandson.

It’s pure joy hanging with Jared and watching him work his magic on the unfortunate, unsuspecting public.

So it was the other day when he drove me down and sat with me on the day of my surgery.

We were admitted to a pre-surgery waiting area. A nurse came in to get the preliminaries out of the way. Which included a myriad of questions, getting me gowned, and starting my IV line.

Mathilda was nothing if not methodical.

She moved tirelessly between me, lying on my bed, her computer station and a table apparently with a check-off list. Paint by Numbers surgery came to mind.

The walls in these little waiting cubicles ought to be plastered all over with huge warning signs:

Don’t Mess With The Nurse!

It likely would have done no good.

Lying on my bed, I noticed my son sitting in the corner quietly observing Mathilda.

I’d been with him enough to know that often times the genetic mischief just explodes spontaneously. (Grandpa, no doubt likely choreographing from on high) But sometimes, like now, the tell tale signs when something was about to bust loose were evident.

Even I was surprised when he finally spoke up.

“I’d like to assist with the surgery.”

[Poignant pause]

Mathilda’s head remained buried in her paperwork.

Surely I must have misheard.

“I’m sure it’ll be okay. I tried calling him. His number’s listed, but I couldn’t reach him.”

[Poignant pause]

Mathilda’s head remains buried in her paperwork.

“Do you have his cell number there?”

[Poignant pause]

Mathilda’s head remains buried in her paperwork.

How do I get out of this?

Jared pulled his cell phone out. “I’ve got my cell here, can you give me his number?”

[Poignant pause]

Mathilda’s head remains buried in her paperwork. But she’s formulating a plan.

“Are you a doctor?”

“Not yet.”

[poignant pause]

Her head remains buried in her check off sheets. But she’s thinking now.

“Where are you going to school?”

Jared threw out the name of some banana republic in South America.

[poignant pause]

Her head remains buried in her check off sheets.

“Did you graduate?”

“Not yet. I’m taking a correspondence course. Do you have that number there?”

[poignant pause]

Unbelievably, Mathilda still hasn’t made eye contact. I’m not sure she’s even aware she’s being pranked. A few moments ago her aide came into the cubical. And stood behind her. Listening to this dialogue. She’s having a lot of trouble keeping it together.

Mathilda’s got to be thinking by now. I’m admitting the wrong patient! But she’s moving into tactical territory now. Maneuvering her cannons into position.

“There’s a lot of paperwork and forms that would have to be completed.”

Jared still hasn’t smiled. He can run a straight face longer than anyone I know. If she did look up he wasn’t giving any of it away. The poor aide had to step out of the cube she was chuckling so hard.

Jared parried and thrust quickly, “I’ll call him. I’m sure it’s okay.”

Watching and enjoying all this, I’m also thinking about all those warning signs that ought to highly visible and plastered around the room. But aren’t.

Don’t Mess With The Nurse!

Shortly, this woman’s going to be jamming that IV line into some bodily orifice. And I’m lying here at her complete mercy.

It was time to end everything before I ended up in the ER.

“He’s just kidding,” I say.

[Poignant pause]

Mathilda’s head remained buried in her check off sheet. Did she hear me?

I had to repeat myself several times before she finally looked up. At me. At Jared.

“Oh, you’re being funny.”

Minutes later, sure enough, she had quite a time of it trying to start my IV line.

She massaged and manipulated my left wrist for a moment, examining the back of my hand. Then went back and made more notes in her surgery-by-the-numbers list, then came and examined my left elbow. Landing strip number one must not have looked promising.

After some manipulation, I presented her with an enormous vein. Begging for recognition. Home free.

But it was not to be.

“Oh,” she remarked. “It’s bent.”

I looked down, admiring my handiwork. She was correct. My engorged magnificent vessel begging for attention, hooked sharply. No straight-in landing possible there.

More notations.

Next she was around on the other side of my bed, massaging and patting the back of my right wrist. I could see she wasn’t liking the looks of landing field number three. She kept sneaking little surreptitious glances up at my right elbow, landing strip number four—the last one. It must not have looked very inviting. She was soon earnestly fencing with a vein in my right wrist.

If it hadn’t been somewhat painful, I would have laughed. This third-choice vein was a dancer. Needle thrusts in—vein slides left. Back out. Regroup. Reenter. This time the vein dodged right. It must have taken close to two minutes to corral that puppy. Dance over. Stop the music. My friend, Sherry Novak, a dance instructor probably could have figured out the rumba steps and done it quicker.

The surgery came and went. Successfully.

Night time. Peaceful. Quiet. I love this hospital.

Well, with the exception of some insomniac bird that chirped all night long. Right next to my ear. A nurse would come in, check everything out and reset the IV pump. Said I was probably blocking the line in my sleep. She’d no sooner kill the light and close the door and the thing would go off again. All night long. Around morning, a nurse came in and discovered it was Mathilda’s handiwork. Peeling the tape off my wrist, revealed Mathilida’s plastic sleeve where it went into my vein looked like the letter Z!

The following day, lying in my room, I overheard some nurses saying Mathilda had quit. I sincerely hoped it had nothing to do with her most recent patient. But according to the nurses, she had returned to Germany. Some family emergency.

My recovery was going well until it hit a bump around the third day. Actually more like a lump.

The doctor indicated he might have to go back in. Investigate.

All manner of imaginations came to mind. Those horror stories (urban legends, most likely) about finding surgical sponges, gloves, and forceps left inside.

It was nothing like that at all. Merely a note from Mathilda:

It’s not so funny now, is it?

Thanks Jared.

Your great grandpa’s rolling on the floor up there.

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Two Days Living With Sex Trafficking – Part 2, Meeting the Girls

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It’s possible you could stumble across ‘My Daughter’s House’ in Rosarito and never realize what it was, or who these young ladies and children are who live there, where they’ve come from, what they’ve survived.

Because they’ve been redeemed! They’re filled with hope. Their new life in Christ has replaced the scars of abuse.

In spite of what man did to them, they’re now innocent and pure again.

Someone poetically referred to them as Twilight Treasures. It’s sooo apropos.

This installment is the story of my two day visit with them. How they changed my life.

The girls love volleyball. They have a dirt court in their back yard. We played for hours one day.

I don’t speak Spanish, but it wasn’t necessary in order to get caught up in the competition, the laughing, jesting and ribbing we enjoyed together.

When I thought about who these carefree laughing girls were that surrounded me, shrieking with glee, I teared up a couple of times. It was impossible not to. Not when you envisioned them scant months earlier, selling their bodies; voluntarily or as slaves in brothels.

I don’t think anyone noticed the tears.

A couple years ago I made several covenants with God. Some things to help keep me reminded about poverty, the poor, and injustice in the world.

One of these (perhaps the dumbest) covenants was to no longer swipe away my tears. Any kind of tears. Whether they be joy, sadness, whatever. I thought it’d be helpful.

I also thought (and this is perhaps really dumb) it might be nice if folks could see not everyone who called themselves a Christian was an uncaring, unloving, cold-hearted, right-wing neo-con. Forget religion. I just want to try and follow Jesus. That’s hard enough. I’ve since discovered, not swiping away tears is nearly impossible too. Swiping seems completely unconscious, reflexive.

So, yes, I believe I escaped the volleyball game without anyone noticing or wondering why their old bald-headed, bearded visitor was anguished.

But it got progressively harder throughout the two day visit.

I stayed with Steven while I was down there. He had a small room on the second floor of a vacant unused building across the street from the girl’s house. It had just enough room for a desk and a small murphy bed, one of those cool old-fashioned things that fold out from the wall. It was barely large enough for Steven, let alone his Irish setter bunkmate, Cabo.

I slept on the floor nearby. It was either there or curling up in the ensuite under the sink.

When you stay with Steven you rise at 4 a.m. That’s only shortly after Cabo wakes you at 2 a.m. for his mid rat feeding. His bowl was right next to my sleeping bag.

Guy eats like a starving dinosaur.

Then he chases his midnight snack down with a quart or two of water, drinking like a horse.

Steven was laughing the next morning; said he wondered if I was getting splashed!

During the night, Cabo, the consummate host, padded over several times to check up on me. It was a little disconcerting, waking in the dead of night with these huge brown eyes looming over your face. Probably just making sure I was okay. Or more likely, wondering if I was supposed to be there.

I was a little worried he might be leaking, but my bag was dry the next morning.

He’s like the official mascot for the safe house. The kids love on him, and vice versa. He’s a huge huggable hunk of dog.

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As mentioned, Steven’s day starts early. Coffee, Bible, pipe and prayer.

The four traditionally essential ingredients for a truly spiritual morning evangelical quiet time.

As an honored guest, I was offered of one of his vintage pipes. I declined sucking on one of his vintage stems; opting instead to suck on one of his fine Cuban cigars.

He chides me, rolling his eyes, when I try and convince him Swisher Sweets (my favorite) are the greatest. They’re certainly cheaper.

He admits, living in Cuba got him addicted to the finer sticks in life. I mean, we’re talking fine sticks, here. Supremo sticks.

On subsequent visits, he always tried to corrupt me, offering me one of his private Cuban selections. One day he handed me this gnarly looking thing in a plastic food baggy. It looked like one end had come unwrapped or someone has seriously stomped on it. He assured me that’s the way it was rolled. Hand rolled. Told me it was a $500 cigar!

Smiling.

Right.

Lying, for sure.

He wasn’t. I checked it out on the Internet. Like everything else I was learning about Steven Cass, it checked out.

So that morning, with Cabo snoring at our feet and breaking wind, we sat outside in the pre-dawn darkness on a narrow balcony overlooking the street. Enjoying our tobacco, and coffee. Talking about and praying for the Twilight Treasures that would soon awaken in the house across the street.

Concerned, he informed me several of the girls still have some real trauma issues to work through. He dotes and worries, protectively, about his little flock over there like an old mother hen.

He’s also confused, I think. He’s not sure if he’s their big brother or their father. (Whichever it is, I’m sure it doesn’t matter to them in the least.)

Then he surprised me. The girls informed him they felt comfortable around me. Told him they wouldn’t mind if I hung out at the house. Crashed, or just relaxed; whether he was there or not. He said they usually don’t feel comfortable with men around the house. Not too surprising, that.

I felt kind of blown away.

This was a good life.

He could see I was captivated by the girls and beginning to feel comfortable with the house activities. For me, it was heart-warming to know I was accepted by the girls.

Most of them, anyway. The little four-year-old girl was proving to be a hard nut to crack.

When she was rescued, she and her twelve-year-old sister were being pimped by their grandmother. She stole my heart the first time she looked at me, before I even knew her story. It was inconceivable. And there were similar stories among some of the other girls.

I spent hours lying on the living room floor the first day, trying to woo God’s little angel. She merely watched me with suspicion—from several feet away.

At first.

But she was coming closer. Inch by inch.

Smiling shyly now.

Breaking my heart.

She was beautiful.

Her eyes were bigger than those proverbial saucers. I knew for certain her little heart was gigantic as well. Most likely Galaxy-sized. It had to be to have survived, and still be able to smile like that.

She joined the other ladies one day, all gathered around me, watching and tittering while I changed a diaper on one of the babies. It was a very professional job, I thought. But they looked doubtful.

I was slowly coming to realize the male gender in Latin America are usually invisible during domestic activity. Stupid guys. They have no idea what they’re missing.

You’ve gotta listen carefully when Steven talks. While we were sitting on the balcony that morning, he asked me if I wanted to go do the morning bible study at seven with him and the girls. I agreed eagerly.

But I was still half asleep! Shaking off sleep and looking at Steven, I realized he meant exactly what he said: did I want to go over and DO the study! Too late to back out.

No doubt he was sleepy also. Forgot I didn’t speak Spanish. No, he said. No worries. One of the gals was bi-lingual. She’d interpret for me.

Hmmm … Darn!

He said he was heading on over to the house, but to take my time.

Cool.

He was giving me time to prepare. Ha. It was already six forty five.

Advice: If you ever get to visit, be prepared. Listen carefully to what Steven says. Don’t rely on ‘English only’ for excuses. Won’t work.

So, half an hour later, I fumble my way through some inane hastily prepared remarks. Trying to encourage Steven’s Twilight Treasures, and getting blank-eyed stares in return. When I came to the strong salient finish, the girls leaped to their feet, eager to escape.

Steven closed his Bible, smirked, shook his head at me slowly, and gave me a major-sized you-gotta-be-kidding-me eye roll. (The guy’s really come a long way from an unwashed, heathen, money launderer.)

So ended my short, scintillating, international speaking tour.

But I made up for it.

Big time, baby. Big time.

There’s a half-hour period each day when the girls gather in the living room for a quiet reflective time of prayer with God.

I asked if I should leave. But my new best friends informed me it’s okay if I wanted to stay. Participate.

(Ah ha! Forgiveness and second chances, came to mind.)

Steven informed me sometimes the girls just prayed in silence, but there might be a few audible prayers expressed as well. Just go with the flow. Then he left to run an errand.

Alone in the house, now, with the girls, I watched as they got pillows from the bedrooms and began kneeling down around furniture in the living room. I knelt down on one end of a couch and was soon joined by three girls on my right.

Someone turned on a quiet worshipful CD.

I’d been informed nearly all of the girls were battling colds, but I really don’t think it explained all the subtle sniffling during the next thirty minutes.

I was suddenly overwhelmed how precious this private activity was they were allowing me to share.

Kneeling there, surrounded by these treasures of God, I began to weep.

Okay, okay, sobbing. It was blatant outright sobbing.

It took all I could do not to groan out loud, but my sobbing was shaking the sofa a few times.

It was impossible not to. You would have too. If you were surrounded by these redeemed treasures of God, pouring out their hearts to an all-loving heavenly Father.

(In many cases the only ‘father’ that had never used or abused them.)

It was a beautiful time. A powerful time.

Some of the girls surely experienced it also. It may have been the first time the girls on my right ever felt the power of God shaking their couch.

And for once, I wasn’t the only one with a wet face at the end of an activity.

God is moving and alive in these girls.

It’s wonderful!

Wednesday night the girls go to a church service in town. It was so special to see them come out of their room all spiffed up. They were lookin’ good, baby. They were beautiful! You could have plopped any one of them down in the front row of the Washington National Cathedral in D.C. on Easter morning and all they would have gotten would have been appreciative stares. They were absolutely gorgeous. More importantly, the beauty was on the inside too.

The worship service started at seven, but we had to be there by six. There was going to be a wedding that night.

Because of the way they were dressed I thought maybe they were involved in the service, but when we arrived, all Steven’s girls started helping set up for the reception. After the wedding.

But you know what? They surprised me.

Before everyone got busy working, they marched into the sanctuary, right down to front row center and plunked down purses and bibles to reserve their seats.

It was, I realized happily, just one more example of their freedom and new identity in Christ. There was no intimidation or trepidation about their acceptance.

Knowing they were headed in to reserve seats, I would have bet money they were going to stake out seats in the back rows. Hiding places. (Probably like many of us do.)

Not these girls. They were free. Free and beautiful!

Not sure how it worked out, but I ended up right in the middle of them. Front row center. My new best friends, and me. (Not the place I would have picked, for sure.) But what a joy, worshipping the King that night surrounded on both sides by His handmaidens!

I kinda thought I was prepared for this trip.

I wasn’t expecting too many—if any—surprises.

I just had some questions for Steven. And I wanted to see his daughters for the first time.

He and I got to spend a lot of time discussing the ministry. Trafficking in general and his organization, Breaking Chains.org, in particular. We got into some nice theological discourses (okay, okay, arguments.) And we talked about finances.

I learned a lot. But I wasn’t prepared for the fall out.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Coming Next:

Pictures on the Wall. Churches that Aren’t. Steven’s Story. Reality Reboot.

THE TIJUANA CRAWLER

I was feeling good. Just walking down the street.

It was October. A sunny day. 2009.

I was in a foreign city, on my way home. The pot-holed streets were crowded. Noisy with the din of traffic congestion and car horns.

As always, I was in my feel-good, do-gooder mode. Passing out pennies in the Kingdom.

I had some folded bills stuffed in a pocket for quick access, and some coins in one hand.

Buying gum from street urchins, passing out pennies to beggars.

Doing my thing for the Kingdom. Feeling useful. Feeling good.

The broken narrow sidewalks were jammed with vendors. More often than not, room for only one lane of pedestrians. The air was redolent, wafting with fragrant plumes from outdoor barbeques.

Then it happened. Seems like it always does. On these trips through town, back to the border. Dodging and weaving quickly through congestion surrounding a street vendor, I look up just in time to find myself squeezing past an old derelict holding out a cup. Too late. To late to react, without causing a traffic tie-up. I ignore his barely heard request, and hastily mumble the first completely inane thing that comes to mind: “No gracias… Sorry.” And move on without looking back.

Thinking, you are soooo stupid, you idiot! You can’t be for real! I don’t speak Spanish, but this guy’s begging … and I say, “No thank you?”    Jesus, what’s that all about?

And sorry? Sorry for what? Sorry I didn’t see you in time? Or sorry I didn’t care enough to go back? Take the time?

And every time I miss one of these opportunities I’m reminded of     Jesus’ words, “I was naked, thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink….”

Jesus? Wow. Was that another Jesus I just passed by without helping?

I hate it when this happens. But I like something about it too. It always sparks this dialogue. Is it dialogue to talk to yourself? Well I guess God was included in these dialogues, too, so it’s probably okay.

The dialogue usually goes something like this.

A few months ago I read something that made me realize I live everyday in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said when he came 2000 years ago, that he came to usher in the Kingdom of God. Here. Now. (Or then, actually.) But it opened my eyes to a beautiful thing. The awareness that each of us is living right now, this moment, in the Kingdom of God.

Growing up as a child, I’d always been reminded heaven was a beautiful place. And that Jesus was quite busy designing and building my custom home there. Like he promised. It was certainly something to invoke warm feelings.

But this new thought, that his kingdom was already among us. Or more precisely, that we are already living in it. Now that was exciting! And thought provoking.

Having never been accused of not being a romantic, I began envisioning that that being the case, then all of us Christians were actually like princes and princesses. Dressed in regal, royal finery. Deep Purples. Bright sky-blues. Swords encrusted with jewels. Riding about our Father’s kingdom on these giant, glorious steeds. And as princes in the King’s family it was our daily duty to ride about the kingdom greeting his subjects, inspecting his property and setting aright any and all things remiss. Like keeping the sheriff of Nottingham at bay.

Like passing out pennies. Loving on the poor. Okay, maybe $5 or even a rare $10 now and then. Certainly nothing, though, that would break my bank.

What a great job! Stamping out injustice. Righting wrongs. Polishing the kingdom.

So a few blocks later, prince Enyart is right in the midst of this ongoing dialogue (with himself?) when the unthinkable happens. In retrospect, you sort of imagine this is the kind of thing God loves to do, right? Just to get your attention? Jerk your chain? Maybe knock you off your high horse? It always hurts, but in the end you (hopefully) learn something from the experiences.

Dodging around another passerby I look up and see the unimaginable coming toward me on the sidewalk. I mean like, Jesus! This is unimaginable! Bear in mind, this is not downtown LA, or anywhere in the USA. It’s a poor third (second?) world country. And not a great city, at that. But still … This?

About ten feet away I see Jesus. Wait. Let me explain.

At the time I didn’t recognize him. Would you? I mean, what does He look like anyway? And He’s certainly not female.

Before this I would have told you I’d seen everything. Walking through this, one of my favorite towns. Beautiful people, poor people, blind people, rich people, crippled people, you name it. I’d seen it all.

But today, there was a young woman crawling toward me on the filthy sidewalk. She wasn’t crawling really, because she was flat on her stomach, inch-worming and dragging herself along slowly, sort of listing on her right side. Her arms and legs looked to be crippled and curled. Amazingly both she and her clothing looked clean. In spite of the fact she’d been painfully dragging herself along on this dirty sidewalk.

No one was paying her any attention. Almost like she didn’t even exist. Thinking back now, I realize she must be a permanent fixture there. Someone they must see daily.

It happened so fast that by the time I’m past her with my folded bills and handful of change, I realize she wasn’t holding a cup or begging. Hard to do when forward motion is a full time job. My eyes are suddenly pooling, my face contorted in anguish. I ask myself what would a true prince in the kingdom of God have done?

I envision him swooping her up in his arms and swinging onto his steed. Pounding off to the castle, taking her to his Father. Certainly he would not have ignored her. Passed her by. Crawling on the sidewalk. In his father’s Kingdom. Like all the others. Like I did.

Soooo … what could I have done? What should I have done? A couple of obvious things popped into mind immediately. Nothing to do with filthy pennies.

One thing though was foremost in my mind. As hot tears streamed down my face. It was this thought: No one should ever have to crawl in the Kingdom of God. No one. Not ever. In fact, I’m certain there’s probably even some ordinance against it.

In my dreams now I’m sitting down in front of her. Pulling her up. Holding her in my arms. Whispering in her ear the good news that crawling is not allowed. You have to get up. Pointing to heaven and telling her because the King commands it.

Oh yeah. Did I ever want to go back. But I didn’t. I never even looked back. I was too afraid.

On that beautiful day of promise. October. 2009.

The day she probably would have loved to meet a prince.

Find out about that rule about crawling in her Father’s Kingdom.

I weep all the way to the border.

Some prince.

Maybe next time.

EPILOGUE

Yep, there’s actually an epilogue to this. And it’s not a happy ending, either. Not yet.

The next couple of trips down, I scouted around a few blocks in the area where I had seen my Jesus. Not sure what I’d do if I did come across Him. Honestly I think I was hoping, in fact, that I wouldn’t. And could salve my conscience knowing, Well, I tried, didn’t I?

I also made some inquiries, too. One person thought they knew who she was, and maybe even the neighborhood where she lived. Thought she had a daughter that lived with her. Even thought he knew her name.

This guy is a friend of mine. You might call him the Laguna Greeter of Tijuana. He works a pedestrian bridge over the river leading to “Tourist Alley” and the downtown shops. With his tin cup. I buy gum from him and usually bring him a bottle of water. Sit with him and chat. (He speaks passable English.)

There’s a craziness about this too. Because in over the year I’d known him, I’d never once thought about praying for him. My friend. So now I’m asking him about my crippled Jesus — and my friend has no legs. He drags himself around on a rolling dolly.

And what do you pray for a man with no legs, anyway? Strength? New legs?

My dilemma was escalating, not abating.

It’s now been years since that day I almost — but not quite — met     Jesus. Crawling on a sidewalk. I’m trying to be more spontaneous. Trying not to think so much about what people might think. Maybe there’s some improvement, but it’s probably not noticeable.

But there’s a little big thing in the back of my mind I have to confess I’m kinda worried about. What if there’s a sequel coming soon? What would I do if I ever come across her again. Would I do anything differently?

I know some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve been there too. And if you’re honest, you’ll admit it’s actually more about us looking foolish, than giving God a chance to get glory. And kick the sheriff of Nottingham out of His kingdom.

There’s a saying by William W. Purkey I love. It’s one we’ve all heard and wish we lived by, but don’t. It goes:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

I love that last part: ‘Heaven on earth.’ Wow. That’s the goal, right? That’s what you and I want to see. And help make happen.

Sometimes we all need to just play it to God. And no one else. Just forget they’re watching.

Lord, please help me remember that the next time I come across you lying in the street. Help me put my fear aside. And most of all my pride.

And help me play it just for you.

Then get out of the way.

For the glory is all yours.

Now and forever.

So be it!

STUBBLING

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LOL. (I just read Sherry Barber’s post on Celebrity Stubble.)

I know, you’re thinking this is a rebuttal. Ha.

Actually, I never gave Hollywood hair (or lack thereof) much thought until Sherry’s blog. Honestly, I never found much to criticize with Farrah Fawcett’s ‘do’. Yul Brynner’s, either. I enjoyed Sherry’s blog. But personally I find monkey suits (of all vintage) and ties (any color) archaic and anathema. And cleancut or shaven? Makes no difference. (Ha, whose looking at the men, anyway?)

It’s improbable I’ll ever acquire a White House invitation — nor be admitted if I did. I reserve my finest monkey suit attire for events honoring the poor, for orphans, and for the disenfranchised. And only them. I’d certainly not dress in corporate mufti for Hollywood nor to hobnob with our nation’s ‘finest’.

After all, it’s what’s in a heart that makes any man (or woman) not the clothes on their backs. Mayhap when all the world’s poor and needy have a suit I’ll have to reevaluate. Maybe not.

Said with (a smiggin) of tongue in cheek. Nevertheless: Down with Hollywood, long live iconoclasts.

Steve Enyart, newly minted WCW member. Class of 2014

A TRIBUTE TO MARILYN JENSEN

My first novel, “McCarley’s Edge” had been struggling to escape from my head and hand for some time. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Marilyn Jensen for abetting the escape.

Years ago, Marilyn was leading a writer’s workshop at the East Whittier YMCA. She informed me in no uncertain terms that Maggie McCarley — a minor foil in another story I was writing — was competing detrimentally with the main protagonist. Consequently, Maggie got un-shuffled. And now stars in her own right.

When I saw Ms. Jensen was a member of WCW I was greatly looking forward to getting reacquainted. Sadly, I learned I just missed her by a few weeks. I still tremble when I hear her favorite constructive criticism: “Condense! Condense! Condense!”

(I’ll try, Marilyn, I’ll try. But I’m afraid I’m hopeless!)

Steve Enyart, WCW, Class of 2014

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