Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fourteen

   To think such thoughts is one thing. To publish them is to betray the tribe.

   So, we blunder around like a man in the dark; bump into tables, curse the pain, proceed more slowly, when a visit to the light switch on the wall would illuminate the room. The darkness is of our own making.

   A friend who might be an advocate calls out from another room. We ignore him, while we encourage those who exhibit bravery in the darkness but no insight on light. The friend/advocate grows weary and turns away, first to clean his room, then to build his own house.

   We briefly lament the loss of another friend. The darkness seems somehow more comfortable when no one disturbs us with light.

    We might choose the critical, discontented spirit, the soul of terror, who would jeopardize our Unity-in-the-Darkness. There are no musts, for musts are imperatives and imperatives are the stuff of the missionary. A man mired in darkness is not on mission.

   Our convention of churches might yet be a point of light, in facet millions of points of light. We yet have that opportunity, I believe, or I would scarcely bother with this memoir.

   One day, decades ago, I had this little team to travel in evangelistic work. We were itinerants, going from place to place, young people on mission. The tedium of the road would dissipate sometimes, in the afternoons, going door to door in yet another community, or at the evening, when we would meet in "revival" with God’s people to pray, preach and sing.

   Occassionally, fatigue, door slamming or general events would overwhelm me. One of those times came after a two weeks spent in San Diego, California. We left San Diego in our old RV late on a Sunday night, needing to travel all night and the next day to reach El Paso, Texas for a service the next night.

   We got there, barely, put on the same old smelly clothes, set up the equipment under an awning in a city park. The local contact team had reserved the spot, gotten out our posters and strung the awning with outdoor Christmas-type light bulbs.

   I wandered off from the team as they went through their sound check.  A footpath led me up the rise of land next to our meeting site. I walked its height, sat down to think, found I was too tired to think and just sat. Behind me the evening breeze pushed in while night followed it on little cat feet. I did not notice the breeze much, nor the increasing darkness.

   Nor did I see the young man who came up from behind me. He said nothing for awhile. At some point, he had to come up and sit down, for he was not there when I walked up the path.

   I should say it was one of those nights every preacher has when he/she knows his/her guts will be spilled in about an hour of time but he/she would rather do anything than speak in public again. Let me say it this way; it was a night when I did not believe in God much, nor believe in myself at all.

   "It looks like they are having some fun down there," the young man said and I jumped.

   He was not much older than me at the time, I did not think. He was long-haired, beaded in the fashion of the day. He smelled of smoke from some recent fire.

   "Huh?" I answered him.

   "It looks like they’re having fun down there," he said and pointed with a long, thin, bare arm, ended in a skeletal hand.

   He was pointing to the lighted awning below, where people had gathered and music started. In the growing darkness, the scene below us literally glowed. All around us was darkness. Below there was this little bit of light.

   "I wonder if they let anybody get in there with them?" he asked.

   "You can definitely get in with them," I replied.

   "Well, I think I will try it out," he said and stood to walk down the little path.

   I still don’t know where I lost him. He was ahead of me but not far ahead. The evening was dark but not that dark. When I got down to the little covering I could not see him at all.

   So, I don’t know if he stayed or left or existed or was an angel. I just know he saw the light and pointed to it and called it "fun."

   For someone, the least little thing we do together is light in the darkness. There is a reason for us to connect.




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