Man-Goes Well… March 14, 2012

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James was black.

His mother noticed shortly after his birth and the trend continued throughout his childhood, into adolescence and was still in full swing when I met him in 1980 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

We became friends. This was frowned on in our community, where it was highly recommended that “coloreds and whites” not be mixed–and I’m not talking about doing the laundry. We didn’t care.

Matter of fact, we planned on taking a missionary trip together to Haiti. Honestly, it was more the desire for adventure than evangelism, but both motivations still welcome the presence of God.

Haiti. It is a land infested with poverty, which welcomes the supernatural, primarily in mysticism and voodoo, but also embraced the Catholic Church when it arrived, possibly because she brought in statues, saints and a bit of her magic–and even smiled a little when the Baptists came in offering redemption through dunking; and certainly the Haitians were intrigued when the Pentecostals arrived, blabbing away in tongues. I even ran across a lady who had built an altar out of cardboard boxes which contained a statue of Mary alongside a goat’s head. (I would assume this would be Holy Mary, mother of goat…”)

James and I created a lot of interest in the city of Port-au-Prince. After all, a black man and a white man strolling along laughing was an unusual sight–especially when the black man was tall and skinny and the white man was not as tall and was “skinny-free.” Walking down the street we looked like a bat and a baseball striding side by side.

Invitations to come and speak in churches in the local communities began to pour in. There were so many that we eventually had to split up–James going to one possibility and I, to another. How disappointed the young, single ladies of the church were when I arrived instead of James! They were yearning for Billy Dee Williams, and they got Billygoat Gruff.

But in one particular hamlet, we ended up together, and in the midst of our presentation, an older lady burst into the church. There was a collective gasp from the gathered. She kind of stomped up to where we were, shook some sort of rattle in our faces and danced around us four or five times before coming to a halt and pointing her finger into my face. James and I, being the rubes we were, applauded her dance, deeming that appropriate. Offended, she plodded out of the room and we were warned by our interpreter that we had just been cursed by a sorceress who was deeply involved in voodoo–and that we should be careful because she had great power.He explained to us that she had wooed a young sixteen-year-old boy away from his home and family, to live with her and be her slave. Honestly, James and I were a bit amused by the whole tale, having dispelled most of our trepidation over fairy tales years earlier.

Now, we decided to stay overnight in the little town, and when we rose in the morning from our pallets, we discovered, outside of our little enclosure, a basket filled with mangos–I think about ten in all. Both of us were hungry, because being not very adept and aware of traveling expenses, we had run out of money and were at the mercy of grazing off the local fare. So we cut into those mangos and began to enjoy a delicious fruit-filled breakfast. When we were about halfway through eating our basket of plenty, our interpreter showed up, absolutely horrified at the sight before him. He explained to us that the mangos had been cursed by our local witch doctress–the lady who had attended the service the night before and that we were eating death and destruction.

Who would know? They tasted like mangos.

Soon a small crowd of the townsfolk gathered around, more or less on a death vigil, to see when we would fall over, foam at the mouth and croak. Hours passed and we continued to giggle, clap our hands and talk with surrounding friends about the goodness of life and God. When it became obvious that the spell must have been somehow “mis-spelled,” the people began to rejoice.Matter of fact, the mother of the young boy who had been taken prisoner gathered a couple of her matronly allies and headed over to the witch doctress’s hut and reclaimed her son, bringing him home.

The woman of alleged magic did nothing. She was powerless.

You see, as it turns out, the boy wasn’t under any spell but lust, and didn’t need any deliverance except to come home and return to sanity. It also turns out that the mangos refused to be infused with anything but good taste.

We stayed on that evening and practically the whole little village came out to hear our message. Superstition was exposed. All it takes is turning on a light, because when you turn on a light, fear scurries away … and faith remains, smiling.

**************

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Interesting story of your Haiti experience. Glad the mangoes were good!

    Like


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