Short Story Wednesday

So today, I have for you a short story I’ve been working on a for a few days.  Inspired by our two cats, Chloe and Rex, and influenced a bit by Ruby, here it is.  Enjoy!

Chloe’s New Friend

 

Rex sat on the windowsill.

‘Wonder what I should do today,’ he thought.

‘I could chase birds.’  He flicked his tail, pensive, as he contemplated the tiny sparrow pecking at the grass right under his nose.  His eyes widened and his nostrils flared.  It was just on the other side of the glass…

‘Nah.’ Rex stretched, arching his back into a perfect ‘C’.  Too much effort.

Rex lowered his royal black bulk back down onto the warmth of the sill.  The sun made his fur gleam like polished ebony.  He was a glorious specimen, a full 20 lbs of feline perfection, and he knew it.  He gazed out at the summer day, his eyelids at half-mast.

‘Hi.’

Chloe jumped up next to him.  All long, black, messy fur to Rex’s sleekness, she contrasted perfectly.  She touched her nose to his, her yellow-green eyes taking in his reclining form.

‘Whatcha doing?’ she asked.

Rex sighed.  He lifted his round head and stared at her.  Little moron!

‘What does it look like I’m doing?’ he retorted.  He flicked her a withering gaze and squeezed his eyes closed again, the picture of repose.

‘Oh.’

Chloe, unfazed, curled her smaller body next to his.

‘What are YOU doing?!’ Rex yelled.

He sat up straight, annoyed now.

‘Well…I thought maybe we could snuggle…’ Chloe said.

‘Snuggle?!  I don’t snuggle.’ Rex marched to the end of the windowsill and jumped down.  He stalked across the carpet and out of the room.

Chloe sat alone on the sill.  She sighed.  She tried so hard to be friends with Rex.  She’d lived with the family for four years now and never seemed to make any headway.

Chloe recalled her first days with the family.  Her current owners had picked her up from the back of a car.

“Ooh!  She’s so cute!” a tiny voice said.

A little girl with big brown eyes looked at Chloe, resting in a cardboard box.  The girl had long brown hair ending in ringlets, held back with an enormous headband.

A woman whom Chloe later learned was ‘Mom’ carefully picked Chloe up and carried her to another car with a carrier inside.  Mom took Chloe to her new home and placed her in a room with her own water, food and litter box.  Chloe, still a tiny, black blue-eyed ball of fluff, had the run of the space.

Chloe spent those days racing up the underside of the box spring of the queen-sized bed.  She crept behind the enormous shelves of books.  She became an adept spider hunter – and eater – during this time.  She smiled at the memory.

However, Chloe was lonely.  She missed her mom, brothers, and sisters.  One by one, Chloe’s original owner gave each of them each away.  Finally, only Chloe remained.  She tried to be brave, but sometimes, in the deep heart of the night, Chloe cried for all she had lost.

Interrupting her reverie, Ruby, the little girl walked up.

“Hello, sweet girl!” Ruby cooed.  Ruby stroked Chloe’s head gently.  Chloe extended up into her hand and purred with appreciation.  Ruby loved her.  She snuggled Chloe every chance she got.  She loved Chloe so much she dressed her up in doll clothes and paraded her up and down the driveway in a hot-pink baby stroller.  That, along with the cardboard house Ruby made her, showed her love.  Every night when Ruby went to bed, Chloe did too.  She flopped down on Ruby’s cluttered bedroom floor.  As soon as Ruby’s breath became the stuff of dreaming, Chloe resumed her nightly guard post in the hallway, right outside Ruby’s door.

Unless Rex wanted to sleep there.  In the wintertime, it was the warmest place in the house.

Chloe frowned.  Her temporary home in the spare bedroom lasted 2 months.  Rex prowled around outside the door, trying to force his way in.  He did not want another cat in the house.  Especially not a kitten!  Alpha cats don’t cotton to competition in any form.

Ruby left Chloe’s side at the window, got a book from her pile and settled down on the couch.  Chloe, still lost in remembering, hardly noticed.

Chloe, while a kitten, played with Rex.  She hid behind corners and when he came into view – wham! – she pounced on him.  Rex hissed at her, bit and kicked her.  Surprised, she didn’t know how to react.  She meant no harm.  But Rex didn’t like it.  At all.

‘Why did you do that?’ he growled, fangs bared.

‘I – I – wanted to play with you,’ Chloe squeaked.  ‘Don’t you like to play?’

Rex pulled himself up to his full height.  His eyes glowed golden with contempt.

‘ I do not play,’ he said.  With a swish of his tail, he departed.

‘And that is how it is to this day,’ thought Chloe from her perch, squarely back in the present.  She slumped down on the ledge.

‘I wish I had a friend,’ she whispered to herself.

Overcome by drowsiness brought on by the glow of the sun and the power of her emotions, she dropped off to sleep.  A whistling snore escaped her lips.

Morning dawned clear. Chloe headed outside after breakfast.  The intoxicating morning smells beckoned to her.  She paced the perimeter of the driveway.  Hmm.  She smelled a raccoon, a deer and several mice.  She licked her lips at the thought of mice steaks.

Suddenly, she saw a rustling in the ivy.

Mouse!  Chloe bounded toward the waving plants.  She crouched down in anticipation, wiggling her backside in preparation.  Now!  She bounced into the greenery.

‘Hey!’ a voice yelled.  ‘Ouch!’

Chloe found herself on her back, legs in the air.  Something large rolled her.  She looked up into the furry face of another cat.

‘Who are you?’ she shrieked, jumping three feet straight up.

The other cat laughed.

‘If you could see your face!’ He chortled until tears rolled down his cheeks.

‘I’m Mario,’ he said, once he recovered.  ‘I almost caught a cool blue-striped snake.  Until you jumped me, that is.’

Chloe stared at him.  He was mostly Tabby, she decided.  His silver fur undulated with striking black stripes.  His big green eyes watched her expectantly.

Remembering her manners, Chloe said, ‘Pleased to meet you.  I’m Chloe.  This is my yard.  My people and I live there.’ She gestured toward the two-story yellow house behind her.

‘Awesome,’ he said.  ‘Mind if I play in your yard?’

Chloe shook her head.  Mind?  This was wonderful!

I don’t, she replied.  ‘But Rex might.’ She filled Mario in on the resident alpha feline.

‘Ooh,’ shivered Mario.  ‘I’ll steer clear of him.’

Silent for a moment, they listened to the ever-teasing chirping of the birds above them.

‘Hey,’ Chloe said.  ‘Wanna play?’

Mario grinned, showing his beautiful pointy whites.

‘Sure!’

They were off.  They chased each other up trees, birds squawking in their wake.  They played hide-and-pounce.  Mario found great big beetles and tossed them at Chloe, who sometimes tossed them back.  Other times she bit into their heads.  She liked the crunch!  Delicious.

The sprinkler made lazy arcs across the lawn.

‘Bet you can’t get as low as I can!’ Mario challenged.

He lowered himself into the grass.

‘Be the ground, be the ground,’ he said to himself.  He groveled in the dirt.

The sparkling water danced over his head.  Lower, lower, it came…and sprayed his ears.

‘Darn it!’ he howled and danced away.

Chloe laughed.

‘My turn!’

Mom had often said Chloe was the original boneless cat.  She showed it now.  Chloe made herself very small, like a mini shag rug.

The water came closer.

‘You’re gonna get we-et!’ Mario jeered.

Closer.

Rex!

Chloe sprang up, right through the pulsing water.  Aack!  She dashed off into the bushes, embarrassed and cold.

Rex surveyed the surroundings.

‘What have we here?’ he asked.  He circled Mario warily.  Mario trembled.

‘I don’t believe we’ve been introduced,’ Rex said, eyes hard.

‘I’m M-Mario.’

‘Ah.’ Rex took a step forward.  ‘You don’t belong here.’

Mario looked Rex in the eyes.

‘Maybe not.’  He paused. ‘But I like it here.  I’m not leaving.’ He glanced back to where Chloe entered the brush.  He didn’t want to see her terrorized anymore.

Rex’s handsome face twisted into a snarl.

‘Oh yes you are!’

With  a spring, Mario jumped Rex.  They rolled over and over in the grass. Rex clawed at Mario’s face. Mario dodged Rex’s small paw-daggers and jerked to the left. Mario landed on top, pinning Rex’s head down. Rex struggled to sit up.  Mario pushed down, harder. Rex huffed with anger and exertion.  Finally, Rex let out a guttural song of defeat and wrestled himself free.  He scampered off into the hole in the neighbor’s fence, tail hanging low.

‘You did it!’ Chloe shouted.  She bounded out from her hiding place.

‘I did, didn’t I?’ said Mario.  He couldn’t keep the grin from his striped face.

But it seemed a little hollow to Mario.  He felt guilty.

‘Hey, Chloe…’he began.

‘Yes?’

‘I think we should make friends with Rex.’

His words hung in the air.

‘What did you say?’ Chloe asked.

‘I said, I think we should apologize to Rex.  He was here first.  Maybe….maybe we can all get along, somehow.’ Mario didn’t like anyone being mad at him.  Besides, anything was possible, right?

Chloe considered this possibility.  She nodded her fuzzy head slowly.  She really did like Rex and had seen him be kind to their humans, purring in their laps contentedly, bringing them live mice.  He meant well.

‘Alright.  But we’ll have to think of a way to make it up to him.’

They sat together and brainstormed.  Mario suggested a dead mouse.  Chloe nixed it. Chloe brought up the idea of a catnip-stuffed sock, but then remembered Rex didn’t like catnip.  He preferred roses.

‘Aha!’ Mario said.  ‘How about a live mouse?  He could have the privilege of dispatching it himself but not having to expend the effort to catch it.’

‘Perfect!’ Chloe pronounced.

They watched for Rex without looking like they were waiting.  They lounged in the front yard, soaking up the afternoon sun leaching out of the cement.  The sun slipped lower and lower in the sky.  Finally, as the last rays faded, Rex slunk out of the hole in the fence.

He froze.

‘What are you two doing here?’ he rasped.

Mario sat up.  He reached a large paw into a small box he had been lying on.  He picked up the wriggling, squeaking mouse in his teeth.  He held it out to Rex.

Rex, stunned, didn’t move.

Chloe spoke up.

‘It’s for you.  Mario is sorry for beating you up. You belong here.  Mario and I are hoping we can all become friends.’

‘Why would you want to be friends with me?’ Rex wondered.  ‘I’ve never been…nice to you.’

Chloe had to agree, but she didn’t say so.  Her mama taught her you don’t have to spout everything that comes into your head.

‘But you can change that now.  Chloe told me you saved a baby bird last spring.  It almost got swallowed by another cat.  You drove the other cat away and you carried the chick back up to its nest before its mother returned. You are merciful.’ Mario still marveled at that story.  Looking at the menacing hulk of a cat in front of him, he had trouble believing it.

Rex’s eyes registered surprise.  Chloe saw that?  He had no idea.  He had forgotten all about it.

Rex hesitated, then took the peace offering.  He grabbed it by the neck and bit into its juicy center.  Yum!  He closed his eyes in ecstasy.

Mario and Chloe smiled at each other.

‘Thank you,’ Rex murmured.  ‘I would like to be friends.  I have been a bit lonely, myself.  I am… sorry for my bad behavior.’  He almost choked on “sorry”.  Pride is a tough master.

‘But I’ve never had any friends before, so you might need to teach me, ‘ Rex finished, bowing his head with the admission.

Chloe and Mario were only too glad to show Rex what being a real friend meant.  From that day on, the three cats were inseparable.  They hunted together.  They played together.  They shared whatever they caught and learned the synergistic heat value of snuggling.

“Mom!  Come look at this!” Ruby called.  “We have another cat now!”

The three friends looked up at her from the bottom of their eyes and smiled a secret smile.

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Pause That Refreshes

Not this.

Not this.

In John 21, the disciples are stumped.  They find themselves in a strange limbo place.  Jesus endured the 39 lashings, crucifixion and burial.  He rose again!  And appeared to his disciples afterwards.  But now what?

There was a certain span of time between the ascension and Pentecost.  What to do?  Peter decides.  “I’m going fishing” (v. 3).  The others join him.  They knew how to do that at least.  Might as well get back to doing something they know.

They caught nothing all night.  Suddenly someone called out from the beach.  “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” (v. 4).

Nope.  Zip. Zilch.  Nada.

The man they can’t quite make out gives them direction.

“Throw your net out on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” (v. 6).  Well, they had nothing to lose.  They couldn’t even haul the net in because it was stuffed with fish.

John, slightly more perceptive than the others, says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (v. 7).  Peter, ever enthusiastic and anxious to clear his name after denying Jesus 3 times, jumps into the water and swims to shore ahead of the boat.  Breakfast awaited them.  Jesus cooked fish and made bread.

If we stopped right there, it would be enough.  Jesus encouraged them by taking care of basic needs.  He didn’t berate them for their lack of understanding.  He didn’t ridicule them for returning to fishing after all they’d been through.  “Hey, guys, I’m the Messiah.  Don’t you get it?  Nothing will ever be the same again. Put those nets down. Fishing ain’t gonna cut it after all you’ve witnessed.  I have more for you!”

Jesus directs them to bring him the fish.  There were 153 in all.  I doubt that number is symbolic, but it is large.  The net hadn’t torn, another small miracle.

Jesus served them the bread and the fish.  The narrative says it was the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection (v. 14).

Now, the sweetest part of all.  Jesus directs his conversation to Peter.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  He calls Peter by his old name, pre-Christ.  These, I suppose, being all other humans on the planet.

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus asks the exact same question two more times, giving the same answers.  The light starts to dawn on Peter.  Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time (v. 17).  His response?  “Lord, you know everything.  You know that I love you.”  Jesus charges him to “feed his sheep” again, then foretells of his death and imprisonment in old age.  Maybe that part isn’t as wonderful, but the question and answer session restored Peter to fellowship with him after Peter’s fall from grace at the cross.  Then, gently, Jesus says, “Follow me” (v.19).

I see two things going on here.  First, how do we handle the “limbo” place in God?  We know the plan, but not the next step.  Second, Peter needed to be back in right relationship with God and his fellow disciples.  Peter would have a key role in spreading the good news.  Jesus took care of both of those things. He served instead of asserting His authority.  He refreshed the disciples with good food and his comforting presence. He recognized their human frailty and worked with it. He even provided fish for them to catch.  He spoke to Peter directly, in front of the other men, and revealed Peter’s true heart.

Going back to what you know in times of indecision is not wrong.  But expect Jesus to meet you there.  He will guide and refresh.  You have important things to do.

Victoria Jackson in Action

I usually wake up with songs in my head.  Sometimes I remember dreams and I mull them over. Usually, if I do have songs in my head, they’re 80s tunes.  I’ve had “Break My Stride” in my head more times than I care to count.  But today is a doozy.  Not one, but two songs, folks!

and Victoria Jackson belting out “I Am Not a Bimbo”.  Yeah.  Couldn’t find any clips of it, unfortunately. I did discover when I went to look for one that she’s a staunch member of the Tea Party now.  Seems a bit odd.  Here’s a link to what she’s up to now.

I’m getting on my soapbox now, or my “editorial page”, if you prefer.  Christians are not morons, despite just about every news clip you view.  Disagreeing with a lifestyle choice is not hatred.  However, if you have a little girl voice and start quoting the Bible at Howard Stern, you *will* seem idiotic.  Departing (almost) entirely from her goofy, airhead roots as a ukelele strumming nymph on Saturday Night LIve, Victoria has alienated many of her fans.

I would say I am one of them.  Or was.

I listened to some of the hour-long Howard Stern interview.  He was truly curious about her, but I couldn’t get past her bizarre responses.  She tried to recapture some of her old sense of humor but it fell flat.  She was all too serious, a sort of belligerent quality in her answers.  I guess I didn’t want serious.  I’m sure her book, which she was promoting, is fascinating.  Yet…I felt a little duped  Here is someone who made her living as an actress/singer/entertainer and now she wants to be a serious Tea Partier?  It seems like she survived a serious head injury more than a spiritual awakening.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in awakenings and changes of heart.  She said she was a Christian during her stint on SNL.  Okay.  She just didn’t have any political beliefs.  What?!  I found that hard to believe, despite her assertion that they only talked about hte Bible and gymnastics – her dad was her coach – at the family dinner table.  Well, if she didn’t think for herself then, she sure is now.

If you’ve read this blog, you know I’m a Christian.  I make no apologies for that.  I am not a Republican, Tea Party devotee or Democrat. I do not belong to the libertarians or the Green Party.  Nor am I a socialist.   I find myself disturbed by the political machinery for the most part.  It seems filled with hatred and outright manipulation.  “If you’re for Jesus, you’re for Glenn Beck!” Almost as bad as those idiotic chain emails with a built-in “blessing.”  And that prince from Nigeria with 10,000 euros for you if you help him?  Step away from the computer!

I try to pray and vote my conscience and leave the rest to God.  As a Jesus freak, I try not to beat people about the head and shoulders with “thou shall nots”.  People do that enough for themselves and don’t  need my assistance.  I may not agree with your choices, but me yelling and/or insulting you will not be helpful.  I find myself returning over and over again to the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12.  At the end of the day, maybe it is all about “What Would Jesus Do?”

 

Multifaceted

diamond

I’ve been in a strange place in my head recently.  I’m loving finding out how people are multifaceted.

mul•ti•fac•et•ed
adj.

1. having many facets, as a gem.
2. having many aspects or phases: a multifaceted project.

Which makes me think of someone I worked with:  Dan B.  Long ago when I worked at IDC in the Special Projects group, I had a project manager who was a certified Bob Ross painter.  He also raised dahlias and liked to cook.  He had a great sense of humor and saved my sanity a few times, something PMs are not generally known for.  Looking at him, a very corporate-looking man in his 50s, I never would’ve guessed it.  These details came out as we spent time getting to know each other over the course of our projects.  He was a civil engineer, one of my favorite disciplines, and a really nice guy.  He snuck chocolates to all the admin staff without anyone knowing.  But we knew!  And loved him for it.  IDC was not a company known for “atta boys” or timely reviews resulting in pay raises. Designing and building fabs was a competitive business and deadlines tight; we kowtowed to it.  The general company motto was “no news is good news”.  Engineers here only spoke up when things weren’t going well.  Dan made sure people knew they were doing well.  Dan’s kindness made his small team move mountains for him and our client, WSC.

One time, when we were at some project celebration, Dan strolled up to me and showed me a card.

“Susan, tell me what you think of this,” he said.

I read it.  It was funny, but not the kind of funny I liked.  It was corny. Like knock-knock joke brand humor.

“It’s funny,” I acquiesced, still in my people-pleasing 20s.

“Now this one,” and he handed me another.

This one was hilarious.  It was more subtle.  I have no recollection of what it was about, but I do remember almost snorting.

Dan went on to expound on how he had found these 2 cards representing different types of humor.  The first one, the corny one, the engineers loved.  The second one the architects and designers loved.  He had done his own brand of market researching within our company based on two greetings cards.

“Since you have a music degree, you fall in the ‘artsy’ group, too,” he concluded.  I remember thinking, Artsy?!  All I do is file, ship and copy things!

It’s kind of funny to think about now.  Our projects involved several facets – scopes of work, schematics, design development, all the way through construction.  All the disciplines participated:  civil, structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical, life safety, telecom. Process/chemical fit in there somewhere, too.  The campuses for each of these projects usually involved several buildings as well.  These men and women needed to come together to create a system of buildings using their expertise,  working lock-step with each other.  Together, they made up a complete facility.

Dan stumbled on a fundamental difference in people.  Was it his own well-roundedness which precipitated this discovery?  Who knows.  Of course, he didn’t take into account people with *no* sense of humor.  IDC certainly had some of those.  But I’m sure there’s a card for that.

Small Mercies

clam

Ruby and I made another trek to Walker Park today.  Because I usually work most of Tuesday and Wednesday, it was a chance for us to reconnect.

In case you didn’t know, summer of 2013 arrived last week.  The tall trees provided great shade for a mom and little girl to have a picnic.  Ruby and I sat, side by side, eating sandwiches and talking about this and that.  Ruby’s small sock puppet joined us.

Ruby turned around and watched the water. Facing the other way, I saw a car pull up.  A mom and two adorable little blonde girls tumbled out.  The older girl, dressed in head to toe pink, had her long-ringlet hair in a ponytail.  I would say she was probably about 5 years old.  Her younger sister, be-diapered and with a flowered hairband, toddled behind.

“C’mon, sis!” the older girl called, smiling,  from the slide.  “You can do it!”

The smaller girl crept up the steps of the play structure, one step at a time.  One foot, then the other foot met on the same step.  Over and over she climbed.  Her slow progress didn’t diminish her good attitude. She reached a plateau and called to her mom.  She wanted to slide down the parallel bars attached to the side of the structure.

“No, baby,” her wise mother said.  “You’re not old enough for that.”

“I can do that,” Ruby scoffed.

Sure she can.  But the smaller girl was probably 2.5, maybe 3.  I reminded her when she was that small she couldn’t do it, either.  She wasn’t a big enough girl to stretch her legs across both bars and slide down.  You have to be taller and stronger to make it.

After our al fresco lunch, we wandered down to the rocky shore.   An unknown sea creature splashed in the inlet.  We watched the browny-green water to see if it surfaced again.  We saw a seagull bobbing on the small waves.  We hunted shells and sea glass. We crept slowly along the water’s edge, Ruby investigating sand fleas and looking for the elusive unbroken scallop shell.

“Mom!” Ruby exclaimed.  “I found one!”  Pleased, she kept her eyes on the ground.

She also wanted a whole clam shell, both top and bottom shells still hinged together, unbroken.  She found one.

Suddenly, she jerked it away from her.

“It squirted water at me!” She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

It was alive.

“It has to go back into the water.  You can’t keep it.”  I tried to let her down easy.

“But why, Mom?  I want it.”  She finally found something she’d been searching for and she couldn’t have it.  Seemed mighty unfair to my girl.

I reminded her that the clam would die without water.  The sun warmed up the still air, and even in the shade, it seemed a bit humid.

She pondered my assertion a moment.  Then the clam oozed out more water.  In her mind, the clam quickly reached disgusting proportions.  Ugh!

We walked down to the gently lapping waves.

“Can I throw it?” she asked.

“No.  Place it gently in the water.  You might break its shells if you throw it.”

She had to be coaxed.  The clam snugly fit in her small palm and tossing it into the waves would be so satisfying…

She knelt down and eased the clam into the shallow water.  The clam opened its maw a micrometer and let out a bubble of relief.

“See?” I told her.  “It said ‘thank you.'”

Ruby took a look for herself.  She agreed.  She let the clam know it was welcome.

If we don’t teach our kids mercy and compassion in the small things, how will they do in the larger, more onerous circumstances of life?  Little girls get bigger and stronger over time.  Clams, helpless on the rocks above the low tide line, need protection.  May I remember to extend mercy to those who cannot help themselves.

Blind Ambition?

 mirror

I’m seeing some parallels between yesterday’s reading and today’s readings.

In 2 Samuel, David starts to gain strength.  Saul is dead.  Israel, divided into Judah and everyone else, looks to make David the one king over all.  Abner, formerly commander of Saul’s troops, comes to offer peace terms to David.  Joab, leader of David’s men, lures him back under false pretenses and kills him.  Turns out Joab and his brother Abishai were still sore about Abner killing their brother Asahel.  Whew!

David decides not to punish Abner for this.  He says:  “I vow by the Lord that I and my kingdom are forever innocent of this crime against Abner son of Ner.  Joab and his family are the guilty ones.  May the family of Joab be cursed in every generation with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or dies by the sword or begs for food!” (2 Samuel 3:28-29).

And Abner gets to live and continue to lead David’s hordes, along with his accomplice and brother, Abishai.

In the next chapter, Ishbosheth, Saul’s last living son and heir to the throne, is murdered by 2 random others.  Triumphant, they present Ish’s head to David:  “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you.  Today the Lord has given my lord the king revenge on Saul and his entire family!” (2 Sam. 4:8).  Because David had nothing to do with that particular coup and no desire to gain the kingdom by treachery, he has both assasins killed. David had their hands and feet cut off to emphasize their heinous act’s impotence and hung their bodies by the pool in Hebron (v.12).

Ishbosheth’s death seals David’s rule.  David is crowned king in 2 Samuel 5.  But this is not how David would have done it. David mourned the death of Abner as well as the death of Saul and his covenant friend, Saul’s son Jonathan.  I wonder if David ever thought, If only I could rule without armies or subjects!  Why didn’t God intervene?  Why was there so much bloodshed necessary?

Skipping ahead to day’s reading in John 12, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with costly perfumed oil.  She wipes his feet with her hair.  The scripture says the house was filled with the fragrance (12:3).  What a beautiful act of love!

Judas Iscariot didn’t think so.  “That perfume was worth a year’s wages.  It should have been sold and the money given to the poor,” he gripes (v.5).  Not that he cared about the poor.  He liked to dip his hand into the till and help himself.

We know Judas is key in Jesus’ betrayal a few chapters later.  And Jesus knows Judas will do it.  Jesus must also have known Judas stole from the poor, too.  But Jesus does nothing about it.  Judas was part of the original 12 disciples.  Couldn’t Jesus have excluded him.  “Oh, God, you know this one’s a rotten apple.  Next!”

I can really see God’s plan continually moving forward despite us flawed humans in the mix.  We add so much baggage.  Ambition.  Greed.  Intrigue.  Betrayal.  They’re part of the human story and all mixed up in God’s story of love and redemption. David sometimes left vengeance up to God to decide, trying to hear God’s voice in the melee.  Jesus listened to the Father’s voice in all He said and did on earth, carrying out the plan to restore mankind to God. Our free will gums up the works sometimes.  We aren’t so different from these folks.  Maybe our methods aren’t quite as drastic.  Still…We try to hurry things along already. Make it so, Number 1!  But our maneuvering can’t stop the plan.

Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. ~ I Corinthians 13:12

Playing in the Park with Boys

Yesterday, I took Ruby and a friend to the park.  We decided on the playground where the girls attend school.  We weren’t going to stay long.  We had about an hour.  Nobody else was there; they had the whole place to themselves.  They ran around, chasing each other.  Ruby’s friend climbed to the top of the monkey bars and walked across.  Ruby isn’t there yet.  She went down the slide and maneuvered her way around the crossbars.  They raced little plastic water bottle tops in the covered area when they got too hot.  They played a version of cops and robbers.

After a little while, two little boys rode up on scooters.  They were about 9 or 10, I would guess, both slightly built with short brown hair.  One wore a helmet and glasses; the other did not.  They took over the play structure with the slides and tunnels.  The girls moved onto other activities.  Boys have cooties, ya know.

I sat on a bench in the sun.  The clouds had finally burned off.  It had been the pattern for the last few weeks to have morning clouds that burn off at say 2:00 p.m, possibly later. We never reach our projected highs of near-80 degrees.  Instead, we settle for something closer to 70.  I’m not complaining, but I have a hard time getting warm on days like that.  Still rocking the hoodies. I took off my sweatshirt and basked a little in the sun’s warmth.  I watched the puffy clouds move out like so many enormous sheep.  I spotted one shaped like a UFO.

All of a sudden, I heard the boys yelling behind me.

“I don’t know why I’m even friends with you.  You’re always a jerk!” one of them spouted.

Ouch.

I didn’t turn around.  But I couldn’t hear any more talking.  One, or both of them, had left.

I watched the girls play with the now-empty tetherball poles.  They tried to climb them, but I made them put their shoes back on.  Broken glass hurts your feet.  No bloody playtime on my watch.

Suddenly, I heard a voice.

“There’s a debit card here on the ground”, a voice said.

I turned around.

The boy with glasses was addressing me, as I was the only other person within sight.  Not to mention the only adult.

“It’s not mine,” I replied.  I didn’t even take my purse out of the car. I did lock my car, however.  I’m not an idiot.

The boy, still wearing his helmet, stooped and picked it up.  His neon yellow high-tops glowed in the late afternoon shade.

“It has a name on it,” I helped from my perch.

“It says Diana Prince,” he said. He paused, considering.  “I should take it into the school.”  A handful of cars lurked in the front lot.  Somebody must be inside.

Somehow, he had both scooters.  Must’ve been some fight.  I watched him walk both of them out of the fenced area, holding the green debit card in one hand as he did so.  Discovering this as unwieldy, he put down both scooters and ran back into the enclosure.

He came towards me at a trot.

“Maybe you could take it to the credit union for me instead. ”  He pleaded at me with brown eyes.

“Sure.”  It was my credit union, too.  No trouble for me to turn it in.

“But I’m sure she’s cancelled it by now, if she’s discovered it missing.”  Having a little bit of experience in these matters, I knew something.

The boy smiled, his eyes kind.  He had a light dusting of freckles on his nose. He walked off doubletime with the scooters.

As soon as he was gone, the other boy burst out of the bushes.  He’d been hiding from his friend.  He ran off in the same direction.

As I rounded up the girls to go to the bank and then home, I considered this exchange.  I looked up into the bright blue sky.  The saucer-shaped cloud was long gone.  I don’t know who started the fight or what it was about. All I know is the brown-eyed bespectacled boy is no jerk.