Choices (part 2 of a 2 part series)

This is part 2 of a 2 part series. If you are just joining us it might be well to read part one first. Just click on the title and a directional phrase in red will appear above.

He was able to overcome the self-pity but would never escape the shame. After his arrival back in the States he would spend hours in the base chapel gazing at a large crucifix suspended above the alter—searching the face of the Savior for some flicker of understanding behind eyes closed in sacrificial death. Carl knew with all of his being that it was there—all he had to do was accept it but he could not—his sin was too great for redemption.

One rainy night he stole into the locked chapel and sat for hours staring at the savior hanging silently and unmoving in the shadows—the bloody wounds and crown of thorns erratically lit by white flashes of lightening stabbing through the windows. At one point in the storm a particularly close and loud crack of thunder shook the building  and startled him out of his meditation. In his heart and mind he could see and hear the curtain in the temple rent asunder, the agony of God swelling and stretching across the black and shining galaxy into infinity as the blood of The Son of Man ran down the cross to mingle with the mud and nurture the trodden and suffering earth.

 Carl never told anyone what he had done and after he left the service he did not try to find a position as a pastor. Keeping his background to himself he accepted employment as a sexton—a church janitor—later picking up the part time work at the park. And as a part of his affiliation with the church he would organize and facilitate a number of groups and programs helping young people. He would do invaluable work—making a profound difference in many lives. Eventually his family gave up asking him why he was working as a janitor in a state where he had known no one when he had a doctorate level education and a loving family who wanted him nearby.

 For years Carl had been fairly successful at pushing his sin out of conscious awareness and had found considerable gratification in his work at the church. There would be the occasional bad dream but otherwise he’d been doing quite well, feeling pretty good about his life until about a year ago he noticed the downy hair on his son’s forearms had become course and his shoulders had broadened appreciably as he worked out with the high school football team. Not long after, he found the discomfort around the boat ride increasing. He knew why.

 He could see his son’s natural leadership skills and his self-confidence—talking to that cute girl Cheryl who ran the Wild Mouse Ride for example. With pride he marveled at his son’s growth and emerging potential, then he would think of the potential of a little anonymous life vanished in a faraway place. “What kind of a man will he be?” Carl would think about George—closely followed by the thought—what kind of person would his first child have been?

Then inevitably, he would see again the serene, silent face of the savior who, across the millennia, always remained above him and just out of reach.  And he would know with deepest conviction that salvation and forgiveness were there for him and that his life turning out the way it had, was all part of the Creator’s grand design. For a moment his pain would be a bit salved, his soul briefly comforted, but the wound—like the Savior’s wounds immortalized in countless paintings and on millions of crucifixes around the world—would never finally heal.

 Georgie, noticed his father sitting motionless on the stool staring at the carburetor parts in front of him as the rain drummed on the barn roof and lightening flashed at the windows. This “spacing out,” had happened a few times before lately—Georgie would gently touch his father on the shoulder saying, “Dad—you OK?” Carl would startle slightly and, glancing affectionately at his son, tell him he was, “fine…just a bit tired.” 

 Standing next to George, was Cheryl—the girl from the Wild Mouse Ride. The way she comfortably included herself in George’s personal space, Carl could sense there had been intimate contact between them, but how much, he wondered. And Carl could see also of late, George was beginning to relate to his father much more as an equal—man to man—he could tell from his son’s touch George would soon surpass him in physical strength. In a few more years George would be leaving for either college or the military after graduation.

 Snapping out of his reverie, Carl took in the image of the young couple before him, his son standing confidently with his first girl friend. In Cheryl’s eyes he could see the devotion to her man as she confidently held onto his strong arm.  Carl felt again the aching pride—and the envy and concern at the journey George would soon be setting out on. So much to learn and experience out there beyond the familiar and understood—so many choices to be made and once made could never be un-made.

 Outside, the rain poured out of gray-black clouds—lightening scoured the sky and earth and in that place of simple refuge from the elements, Carl looked at his son and wished he could lay down his life for him and by so doing, save him from the suffering that would inevitably follow from at least some of his decisions.

 But he knew George would have to find his own Savior.

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